Customer Reviews for

The Great War for Civilisation : The Conquest of the Middle East

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2007

    Now I begin to understand

    As history and news junkie I have always read to understand. Mr. Fisk has lived in the Middle East while covering the area since the 70s. He writes for the Independent newspaper now. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who must know more about why and how the Middle East is the way it is.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2014

    This is a long book that contains a lot that is worth reading: F

    This is a long book that contains a lot that is worth reading: Fisk’s review of the Algerian civil war, following independence; the Armenian genocide; the Gulf war and preceding Iran-Iraq war; the links between the Palestinian leadership and the Nazis; his interviews with Osama bin Laden; the behaviour of journalists, editors and commentators. They are stories that are rarely told, such as the USA’s unwavering support of Saddam, to the extent that the USA covered up an attack on a US warship by an Iraqi plane and instead blamed Iran, or Saddam's use of gas and electricity to kill thousands, war crimes which were then not mentioned in the build-up to the 2003 invasion. 
    The book provides little in-depth analysis, although Fisk's opinions do feature, and it is interesting to see how he writes about Blair and Bush, who are not caricatured in the way we might expect. But the overwhelming purpose of the book is to bear witness and balance out the narrative of the violence that has been a feature of the Middle East and North Africa for the last century. It is frustrating that the book was published at the same time as the London bombings of 7/7, and they are not described, nor are the UK’s detention without trial laws or the frequency of extraordinary rendition that was exposed around that time. On the other hand, the historical context on 20th-century Afghanistan and Turkey is enlightening, and the description of events across the Muslim world that provided the lessons which should have been learnt before 9/11 and the subsequent wars, makes you wonder about the maturity, wisdom and ability, let alone the motives, of the US, British, French and Israeli governments, their armed forces and intelligence services. 
    Fisk's commentary on the language used by journalists is sometimes difficult to follow, but it is clearly very important to him professionally, that the difference between writing "occupied Palestinian territories" and "Judea and Samaria" is semantic and at the same time overtly political, an act which can be violent in itself, though not on the scale of the physical violence documented in this book. There are many other interesting points: the 'no-fly zones' and devastating sanctions imposed on Iraq, a state of constant violence and suffering inflicted on civilians, which by the USA's own twisted arguments served no purpose; or the nail-biting stand-off between UK and Turkish forces at a Kurdish refugee camp in the mountains of northern Iraq. Other parts of the book are less gripping. Fisk's frustration with editors and news desks sometimes seems petty given that he does not seem to have had his book edited properly, and occasionally allows himself to ramble on. For example, his lengthy presentation of evidence that weapons manufactured in the USA are used by Israeli armed forces against Palestinian civilians seems largely unnecessary to demonstrate how arms manufacturers deny their responsibility. He fails to properly emphasise why this is important - that the USA is avoiding international law and claiming the right to act as intermediary in a peace process, when it is helping one side to violate the human rights of the other.
    Overall, the book probably does not deserve to be read end-to-end, but it is a vital reference resource. Fisk’s understanding and humanity – his insistence on naming victims of violence - are in stark contrast to the powerful women and men who seem never to take their due responsibility for that violence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Did it work

    &#1492 hello i like my books should i get this one

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  • Posted July 11, 2010

    Courageous In the Age or Cowardly Corporate Media

    Robert Say's it like it is, and that is why many critics call him biased, because they are afraid the truth will come out.

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  • Posted November 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    CONQUESTS vs. conquests (2 of 2)

    (1 of 2) is posted in Sofcover edition.<BR/><BR/>CC) Bob! You are right. It is true that in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini "intriguingly left out his activities more than a quarter of a century earlier" - Page 98 - because he disapproved of Mossadaq policies of `Nationalization' and `Secular' approach in education. <BR/>In the early fifties, the Ayatollah was not against the Shah. In fact he had no power base then, but the term "nationalize' was anathema to the ears of the Mullah's who possessed large tracts of lands. <BR/>(Actually, in the late forties Winston Churchill advised King Farouk of Egypt to introduce Land Reforms in favor of the Egyptian fellaheen - peasants - to help upgrade their standard of living -- the King promised to do so and leaked out his plans in a way which added fuel to the estrangement of the Wafd, the strong right wing party, whose leaders were the major owners of large tracts of fertile lands--. King Farouk's son in law, the Shah of Iran, was surprised to learn of possible Land Reform Projects in a monarchy like Egypt. But alas in politics, what the British saw as fair in Egypt, was not as fair in Iran). <BR/>When Mossadaq began with Oil - to transfer from private to State ownership in the early 1950's to be able to improve the standard of living of the Iranians - he was labeled `a Communist'. His secular approaches were focused on overdue reforms that should have been put in place since the discovery of oil - the black gold mines - of Iran. <BR/>However, twenty-five years later, the Ayatollahs became uncompromising with the Shah because he intended to introduce wide Land Reform Programs something the Mullah's could not accept with coldness of nerves. Some went out to the extreme and described the Shah of the seventies as another Mossadaq. <BR/><BR/>DD) referring to torturing techniques administered on Iranian dissident groups opposing the Shah's regime. Who taught the SAVAK the 'art' of 'body roasting', ' psychological methods of rough interrogations' ` nail plucking' `sole beating' etcetera? And worse still, who provided the SAVAK with the related equipment, gadgets, listening instruments, mistreated medicines, poisoned needles, radioactive feeding that penetrates the human bodies without leaving traces? This `hitech' calls for well-trained suppliers who possess the know-how and the means, of which, as you can appreciate, the Iranians have been lacking. <BR/>You have alluded to CIA, MI6 and the Israeli Mossad. <BR/>The irony of the matter though is that, all of a sudden, Britain and the USA have been criticizing the Shah - when his voice became prominent in the Oil Industry - that he had been using `Nazi' methods of incarcerations and interrogations of the Iranian opposition groups and that the Shah had actually transformed his country into a Police State. (Same accusations they had many times heaped on Abdul Nasser, Saddam Hussein and Abdul Hamid el Sarraj). <BR/>The drama of the matter is that Great Britain and the USA have `now', by the pressure of multiplying security events after 9/11, applied similar methods as the ex- `police states' to guard against the same `fanatical groups' that had once been harassing Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran. <BR/><BR/>Bob; you've given us a great book ........

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  • Posted November 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    CONQUESTS vs. conquests (1 of 2)

    On my way from Montreal (Canada) to Beirut (Lebanon), my youngest brother handed over to me "The Great War for Civilization' (Hardcover) to enjoy reading on board of BA flight to Heathrow. <BR/><BR/>I must say Robert Fisk made sober `guide' to many events that led to the shaping of the Middle East. The author has also been able to provide the backgrounds to everyday questions about expanded patterns set out in the introduction of `new' episodes still classified (or now unclassified) according to their function and position in the present different time situations. <BR/><BR/>This book, however, should have been split in three volumes, with a bigger sized `Characters' to enable many readers (notably elderly) to make reading of its 1110 pages much easier. <BR/><BR/>There are good number comments that I would like to add to Mr. Robert Fisk's vivid and thorough descriptions of the many memorable happenings that he had seen and dared to live. <BR/><BR/>AA) on his encounter with Bin Laden, I can appreciate Bin Laden's hesitance to meet him. <BR/>Bin Laden is a Sunni Muslim from Yemen, and the historical background of the Sunni and notably the Wahhabi Confession with the successive British oligarchy has been discouraging, unlike the Ismaili (a branch of Shia) who rendered assistance to the British Empire in the course of their military conquests and political influence in the Punjab as far back as the late nineteenth century. <BR/>During `The Afghan War' of 1841-42 the Ismaili raised a highly skilled regiment of cavalry to support Generals Nott and England and Ismaili leaders could reach a promising political understanding with Sir Charles Napier when the British troops moved northwards and southwards out of Sind. <BR/><BR/>Such historical conditions remained vivid in the memories of the Sunni Afghan `sheikhs and mullahs' for the next one hundred fifty years that:<BR/> <BR/>--England is the number one enemy of the Muslim Sunni (not the Muslim Shia) and their major aim had been to inherit the Ottoman Empire, divide the Muslims and devour the Arab `World' <BR/><BR/>--In order to gain material advantage, Britain has always been supportive of the minorities (Shia, Druze, Christians and Jews) and a staunch enemy to the Caliphate (The Spiritual and Temporal Succession in the Muslims' leadership - always a Sunni). Britain abolished through the firearms and firmness of the British Empire, the Khalif (the successor of the Prophet Muhammad) in order to take over the temporal capacities, and only leave weakened spiritual guidance to Imam-el-Muslimin (or spiritual chief of the devout) within the British Empire, with English commanders to lead the `true believers'. <BR/>Nevertheless, given the fact that there has been some sort of rough communal rivalry between the Afghan Sunni and Shii, a Sunni `warrior' like Bin Laden would immediately take the presence of a British Journalist for `a Spy'. <BR/><BR/>The heavy load of persecution between the two confessions of the same Muslim faith brought about fanatical hostility that `the friend of my enemy is ipso facto my enemy'. Robert Fisk, irrespective of the gist of his mission in Afghanistan, in the eyes of Bin Laden's supporters, advisors and entourage, has naturally been regarded with extreme suspicion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2007

    A sparrow tells an uncaring world from a plaintive branch.

    '...war is a security organization...because it succeeds...in inventing, real enemies to kill, and...if...not for war, society would...leave men defenseless before...a purely internal foe.' - 'The Psychoanalysis of War,' Franco Fornari, 1974. Currently a scribe at Britain's 'The Independent,' English born Robert Fisk, 1946- , Ph.D., Political Science, LL.D., et al, has resided in Beirut, Lebanon since 1976. His compassionate book, 'The Great War for Civilisation,' 2006, is based on 16 years of eyewitness reporting on 'The Conquest of the Middle East,' culled from over 350,000 various documents. It is almost 1,400 pages, replete with 10 maps, bibliography, exhaustive notes and a chronology. Fisk's coverage of Israel's influence here and the American invasion of Iraq is provocative, because nobody wants to 'damage the peace process'... Arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, whom the author questioned, don't speak out against improprieties Israel commits with ordnances because they are a valued customer. And 'The Independent' did a fortnight study of American military stocks, ascertaining that thousands of armour, tanks and planes were grabbed by Israel during two decades. Officers apprised Fisk that the omnipotent Israeli lobby doesn't tolerate captious politicians, who treasure their longevity in government, therefore allowing Israel to anytime snatch more than the minimum $14 million in arms required for congressional notification, uncontested and unreported because it is 'classified.' The most powerful such lobby group is the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, which former doyen of, Denis Ross, plus three other Jews--if they were all Arabs, someone would've taken notice--became head negotiators of in the latter 1990's 'peace envoy.' The American press was reticent about this bias, but the Israeli press welcomed them. Fisk pondered, not just the 'how' and 'who,' but the 'why,' behind '9/11,' the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York City. Also, he says, just after this event, on September 16, no British or American newspaper '...would recall the fact that on that date in 1982, Israel's Phalangist militia allies started their three-day orgy of rape and knifing and murder in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila. It followed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon...which cost the lives of 17,500 Lebanese and Palestinians, almost all of them civilians...more than five times the death toll in the September 11th, 2001 attacks....No, Israel was not to blame for what happened...' The author explains that it was Osama bin Laden, whom he first met in 1993, and al-Qaeda, who were the perpetrators, making their statement regarding how they felt about America's involvement in the Middle East--not because 'they hate our democracy.' None came from Iraq, which U.S. President George W. Bush's aggressors invaded, seeking 'weapons of mass destruction' which never existed, through their 'war on terror.' Fisk documents America's pitiless sanctions and civilian killings--'collateral damage'--in Iraq. In Baghdad, citizens' looting is not precluded by U.S. forces, who protect only the Ministry of the Interior, with its intelligence info, and the Ministry of Oil--go figure. It is Israel, who dispossessed 750,000 Palestinians of their land--and 'right to exist,' in the West Bank, in 1948, who now dictates American foreign policy in the Middle East, weakening Arab voices. Get 'The Great War for Civilisation' by Robert Fisk, where a sparrow tells an uncaring world from a plaintive branch.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    Robert Fisk has written a masterpiece.He shatters the myths about ourselves, and the Middle East we are all fed by the main media, as well as politicians on all sides. It is a book about indescribable pain, human folly, and great courage. In a society where we are quite ignorant about the cultures of the Middle East, and tend to dehumanize Arab people in general 'to put it mildly', this is a welcome piece of work. It is not an enjoyable book, because how can one enjoy reading about havoc and mysery? but I loved it, I learned a great deal, and found myself unable to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2007

    Tell all

    The author reminds me of Lawrence of Arabia.He implies to the reader and listener that the Middle East conflict is caused because of the conflict between Israel and Islam. He lives in Beirut and must we aware of the decline of the various Christian populations through that portion of the Middle East in areas controlled by Islam. The reader should be aware of the fact that his residence in in the Area world. This unfortunately colors an otherwise excellent book. He also is selective about many of his facts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2006

    prejudistic and insulting

    I do not even this book deserve any stars. If any, it should be introduced as an insult to the United States very core of existence. This book is a one sided story of the problems in the Middle East. The readers should consider reading more unbiased books.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    Simply outstanding

    Robert Fisk¿s, The Great War for Civilization¿The Conquest of the Middle East, is as fine an all-in-one work as I expect ever to encounter on the topic of the recent (30 years, actually) history of the Middle East. This is not to say Fisk confines himself only to his 30 years¿ actual residency and reportage in the region, as he also provides the background for so many more recent events, including for instance, an entire chapter devoted to the Armenian genocide, a Holocaust Fisk insists should properly be referenced with use of the uppercase ¿H.¿ Another example is a lengthy account of what has transpired in Algeria, the relatively recent civil war against the background that was the war for independence. Fisk¿s provision of such contexts, of which his detailed knowledge is patently obvious, is typical and very useful to those of us who like myself lack such an extensive knowledge of the history of the region in general. Fisk is a journalist of immense passion, a rare breed. His passion is principally that for truth telling, perhaps nowhere more on display than in his account of one of the most vicious of 20th Century conflicts, the war between Iraq and Iran, at which Fisk was present and regarding which he points the finger of blame at parties actually responsible. I¿m personally grateful to Fisk, as might we all be, not just for truth telling, but even more so for telling truth with unfaltering moral conviction. The book is what it is, a firsthand journalistic testament spanning a period of time that renders the book also a history, revealed by a reporter who spares no responsible party, those well known to us and those lesser known to us, though we come to know the latter through Fisk. At the same time, he recounts in excruciating detail, the horrific deeds perpetrated against seemingly countless victims, a small fraction of whom Fisk takes the time and space to name. The book, for all that it contains, is clearly first and foremost one reporter¿s effort to give voice to the victims, in the process revealing his obvious affection for the people of the Middle East and his own thoughts as to what war is finally about as it impacts the victims of that part of the world. Fisk is a fine writer, as good as the best novelist. His writing is what carries one through what is intended to be a thoroughgoing survey, one by the way not for the faint of heart. At the same time, it¿s possible to read only the chapter on the Armenian genocide or on the Iraq-Iran war, and learn a good deal, though for purposes of context the book is best read from beginning to end. Fisk offers at the end some of his own thoughts on prospects and prescriptions, ones difficult to argue with. Robert Fisk is no news outlet¿s patsy. He resigned his job at the London Times when his reporting was doctored. His action then is but one reason he possesses such credibility and stature. He found a new home at the aptly named Independent. He tells us of such personal events as well in his book, including more than one or two harrowingly close encounters, one of which almost cost him his life. This book is that rare instance wherein no party line is toed, unless one counts as party line the elementary moral concern for peoples besieged and victimized by the purveyors of power, so many of whom are never themselves directly involved but whose exceedingly short-sighted policies, intended most often to further special, private interests, are implemented by proxy. The results of those policies, along with some explication of them, are in the book for all to discover. According to Fisk, who should know, the peoples of the Middle East do not forget. While victors write ¿official¿ versions of history, what Fisk has to tell serves as a reminder to western readers at least that they too should not forget, nor suppose they already know what has happened or what is happening, in relying too much on unnamed ¿official sources.¿ Robert Fisk is one major, named, and fortunate fo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2006

    Well Worth Plowing Through

    It will take time, but this book is well worth plowing and digging through. There is such a breadth and wealth of information. Even those folks who disagree with Fisk's political position regarding the United States will find fascinating and worth-knowing tidbits. He reminds us much of what feelings reverberated throughout the world from the 1970's to the Iranian Revolution, the rise of Ronald Reagan, the decline and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, the perils of short-term views of history and the dynamics of countries from Afghanistan to the whole Middle East. I personally enjoyed his interviews with Osama bin Laden from the Sudan to Afghanistan and his chapter entitled 'Why?' The book's size and the material covered could be converted into five differently-oriented books, but Robert Fisk is much too busy a journalist to take the time necessary for appropriate editing. Equally, if you read only one of the five you would miss too much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2006

    Brilliant , Fisk does it again!

    Like his previous Pity the Nation, Fisk has done it again producing a work that should become required reading for anyone who is interested in the Middle East. His graphic accounts of the Iran/Iraq War, Algeria's Second Civil War as well as the present turmoil in Iraq drive home the reality that it is the common people that have suffered the most in the region and continue to bear the brunt of their leaders political misadventures. Fisk is one of the few Western Middle East correspondents who genuinely cares for his subject and truly understands the complexities of a region that has been the target of much misguided journalism. A master journalist but more importantly a sensitive storyteller who keeps the reader enthralled from the very beginning to the end of what is a poignant and deeply moving book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2006

    A great book

    Robert Fisk, the Independent¿s Middle East Correspondent, has written a great book exposing the evils of colonialism old and new. He combines direct reporting of events with a deep historical understanding. The Turkish government was responsible for massacring a million Armenians during World War One. Turkish interior minister, Talaat Pasha, cabled to his prefect in Aleppo, ¿You have already been informed that the Government ¿ has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons living in Turkey ¿ Their existence must be terminated, however tragic the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either sex or age, or to any scruples of conscience.¿ Churchill wrote of the Turks ¿massacring uncounted thousands of helpless Armenians, men, women and children together, whole districts blotted out in one administrative holocaust.¿ The founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, denounced the `Armenian massacres¿ as a `shameful act¿. Writing of Afghanistan, Fisk omits all mention of the prior CIA intervention, but he points out that the progressive Afghan government, which the Soviet Union supported, aimed to provide ¿a modern educational system in which girls as well as boys would go to school, at which young women did not have to wear the veil, in which science and literature would be taught alongside Islam.¿ It ¿had been trying to create a secular, equal society in the villages around Jalalabad. It was not the government that was burning the schools and killing the teachers.¿ Article 49 of the Geneva Convention states that ¿the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.¿ UN Security Council Resolution 476 stated that Israel¿s 1980 `Basic Law¿ declaring Jerusalem its capital was `a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention¿. Fisk writes that in the 1980s and 1990s, ¿Israel reneged on every single major accord and understanding that was signed ¿¿. After Iraq¿s US-backed 1980 attack on Iran, UN Security Council Resolution 479 did not call on Iraq to withdraw from Iranian territory it just called for a ceasefire. The Security Council only `demanded¿ a ceasefire in 1987. US and British warships supported Iraq by escorting its ships through the Gulf. At the end of the 1990 war against Iraq, the US government assured Iraq that its withdrawing troops would not be attacked. But, after the ceasefire, USAF and RAF planes massacred thousands of soldiers who had already surrendered, the infamous `turkey-shoot¿ at Mutla Ridge. The New York Times reported in 20 July 2003 that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld¿s approval was required if ¿any planned airstrike was thought likely to result in deaths of more than 30 civilians. More than 50 such strikes were proposed and all of them were approved.¿ This is clear evidence of war crimes guilt.

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