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The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (Text Only) [Format Kindle]

Robert Fisk
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Descriptions du produit



“One of Our Brothers Had a Dream . . . ”

"They combine a mad love of country with an equally mad indifference to life, their own as well as others. They are cunning, unscrupulous, and inspired."—“Stephen Fisher” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940)

I knew it would be like this. On 19 March 1997, outside the Spinghar Hotel in Jalalabad with its manicured lawns and pink roses, an Afghan holding a Kalashnikov rifle invited me to travel in a car out of town. The highway to Kabul that evening was no longer a road but a mass of rocks and crevasses above the roaring waters of a great river. A vast mountain chain towered above us. The Afghan smiled at me occasionally but did not talk. I knew what his smile was supposed to say. Trust me. But I didn’t. I smiled back the rictus of false friendship. Unless I saw a man I recognised—an Arab rather than an Afghan—I would watch this road for traps, checkpoints, gunmen who were there to no apparent purpose. Even inside the car, I could hear the river as it sloshed through gulleys and across wide shoals of grey stones and poured over the edge of cliffs. Trust Me steered the car carefully around the boulders and I admired the way his bare left foot eased the clutch of the vehicle up and down as a man might gently urge a horse to clamber over a rock.

A benevolent white dust covered the windscreen, and when the wipers cleared it the desolation took on a hard, unforgiving, dun-coloured uniformity. The track must have looked like this, I thought to myself, when Major-General William Elphinstone led his British army to disaster more than 150 years ago. The Afghans had annihilated one of the greatest armies of the British empire on this very stretch of road, and high above me were villages where old men still remembered the stories of great-grandfathers who had seen the English die in their thousands. The stones of Gandamak, they claim, were made black by the blood of the English dead. The year 1842 marked one of the greatest defeats of British arms. No wonder we preferred to forget the First Afghan War. But Afghans don’t forget. “Farangiano,” the driver shouted and pointed down into the gorge and grinned at me. “Foreigners.” “Angrezi.” “English.” “Jang.” “War.” Yes, I got the point. “Irlanda,” I replied in Arabic. “Ana min Irlanda.” I am from Ireland. Even if he understood me, it was a lie. Educated in Ireland I was, but in my pocket was a small black British passport in which His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs required in the name of Her Majesty that I should be allowed “to pass freely without let or hindrance” on this perilous journey. A teenage Taliban had looked at my passport at Jalalabad airport two days earlier, a boy soldier of maybe fourteen who held the document upside down, stared at it and clucked his tongue and shook his head in disapproval.

It had grown dark and we were climbing, overtaking trucks and rows of camels, the beasts turning their heads towards our lights in the gloom. We careered past them and I could see the condensation of their breath floating over the road. Their huge feet were picking out the rocks with infinite care and their eyes, when they caught the light, looked like dolls’ eyes. Two hours later, we stopped on a stony hillside and, after a few minutes, a pick-up truck came bouncing down the rough shale of the mountain.

An Arab in Afghan clothes came towards the car. I recognised him at once from our last meeting in a ruined village. “I am sorry, Mr. Robert, but I must give you the first search,” he said, prowling through my camera bag and newspapers. And so we set off up the track that Osama bin Laden built during his jihad against the Russian army in the early 1980s, a terrifying, slithering, two-hour odyssey along fearful ravines in rain and sleet, the windscreen misting as we climbed the cold mountain. “When you believe in jihad, it is easy,” he said, fighting with the steering wheel as stones scuttered from the tyres, tumbling down the precipice into the clouds below. From time to time, lights winked at us from far away in the darkness. “Our brothers are letting us know they see us,” he said.

After an hour, two armed Arabs—one with his face covered in a kuffiah scarf, eyes peering at us through spectacles, holding an anti-tank rocket-launcher over his right shoulder—came screaming from behind two rocks. “Stop! Stop!” As the brakes were jammed on, I almost hit my head on the windscreen. “Sorry, sorry,” the bespectacled man said, putting down his rocket-launcher. He pulled a metal detector from the pocket of his combat jacket, the red light flicking over my body in another search. The road grew worse as we continued, the jeep skidding backwards towards sheer cliffs, the headlights playing across the chasms on either side. “Toyota is good for jihad,” my driver said. I could only agree, noting that this was one advertising logo the Toyota company would probably forgo.

There was moonlight now and I could see clouds both below us in the ravines and above us, curling round mountaintops, our headlights shining on frozen waterfalls and ice-covered pools. Osama bin Laden knew how to build his wartime roads; many an ammunition truck and tank had ground its way up here during the titanic struggle against the Russian army. Now the man who led those guerrillas—the first Arab fighter in the battle against Moscow—was back again in the mountains he knew. There were more Arab checkpoints, more shrieked orders to halt. One very tall man in combat uniform and wearing shades carefully patted my shoulders, body, legs and looked into my face. Salaam aleikum, I said. Peace be upon you. Every Arab I had ever met replied Aleikum salaam to this greeting. But not this one. There was something cold about this man. Osama bin Laden had invited me to meet him in Afghanistan, but this was a warrior without the minimum courtesy. He was a machine, checking out another machine.

It had not always been this way. Indeed, the first time I met Osama bin Laden, the way could not have been easier. Back in December 1993, I had been covering an Islamic summit in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum when a Saudi journalist friend of mine, Jamal Kashoggi, walked up to me in the lobby of my hotel. Kashoggi, a tall, slightly portly man in a long white dishdash robe, led me by the shoulder outside the hotel. “There is someone I think you should meet,” he said. Kashoggi is a sincere believer—woe betide anyone who regards his round spectacles and roguish sense of humour as a sign of spiritual laxity—and I guessed at once to whom he was referring. Kashoggi had visited bin Laden in Afghanistan during his war against the Russian army. “He has never met a Western reporter before,” he announced. “This will be interesting.” Kashoggi was indulging in a little applied psychology. He wanted to know how bin Laden would respond to an infidel. So did I.

Bin Laden’s story was as instructive as it was epic. When the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Saudi royal family—encouraged by the CIA—sought to provide the Afghans with an Arab legion, preferably led by a Saudi prince, who would lead a guerrilla force against the Russians. Not only would he disprove the popularly held and all too accurate belief that the Saudi leadership was effete and corrupt, he could re-establish the honourable tradition of the Gulf Arab warrior, heedless of his own life in defending the umma, the community of Islam. True to form, the Saudi princes declined this noble mission. Bin Laden, infuriated at both their cowardice and the humiliation of the Afghan Muslims at the hands of the Soviets, took their place and, with money and machinery from his own construction company, set off on his own personal jihad.

A billionaire businessman and himself a Saudi, albeit of humbler Yemeni descent, in the coming years he would be idolised by both Saudis and millions of other Arabs, the stuff of Arab schoolboy legend from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. Not since the British glorified Lawrence of Arabia had an adventurer been portrayed in so heroic, so influential a role. Egyptians, Saudis, Yemenis, Kuwaitis, Algerians, Syrians and Palestinians made their way to the Pakistani border city of Peshawar to fight alongside bin Laden. But when the Afghan mujahedin guerrillas and bin Laden’s Arab legion had driven the Soviets from Afghanistan, the Afghans turned upon each other with wolflike and tribal venom. Sickened by this perversion of Islam—original dissension within the umma led to the division of Sunni and Shia Muslims—bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia.

But his journey of spiritual bitterness was not over. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden once more offered his services to the Saudi royal family. They did not need to invite the United States to protect the place of the two holiest shrines of Islam, he argued. Mecca and Medina, the cities in which the Prophet Mohamed received and recited God’s message, should be defended only by Muslims. Bin Laden would lead his “Afghans,” his Arab mujahedin, against the Iraqi army inside Kuwait and drive them from the emirate. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia preferred to put his trust in the Americans. So as the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division arrived in the north-eastern Saudi city of Dhahran and deployed in the desert roughly 500 miles from the city of Medina—the place of the Prophet’s refuge and of the first Islamic society—bin Laden abandoned the corruption of the House of Saud to bestow his generosity on another “Islamic Republic”: Sudan.

Our journey north from Khartoum lay though a landscape of white desert and ancient, unexplored pyramids, dark, squat Pharaonic tombs smaller than those of Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus at Giza. Though it was December, a sharp, superheated breeze moved across the desert, and when Kashoggi tired of the air conditioning and opened his window, it snapped at his Arab headdress. “The people like bin Laden here,” he said, in much the way that one might comment approvingly of a dinner host. “He’s got his business here and his construction company and the government likes him. He helps the poor.” I could understand all this. The Prophet Mohamed, orphaned at an early age, had been obsessed by the poor in seventh-century Arabia, and generosity to those who lived in poverty was one of the most attractive characteristics of Islam. Bin Laden’s progress from “holy” warrior to public benefactor might allow him to walk in the Prophet’s footsteps. He had just completed building a new road from the Khartoum–Port Sudan highway to the tiny desert village of Almatig in northern Sudan, using the same bulldozers he had employed to construct the guerrilla trails of Afghanistan; many of his labourers were the same fighters who had been his comrades in the battle against the Soviet Union. The U.S. State Department took a predictably less charitable view of bin Laden’s beneficence. It accused Sudan of being a “sponsor of international terrorism” and bin Laden himself of operating “terrorist training camps” in the Sudanese desert.

But when Kashoggi and I arrived in Almatig, there was Osama bin Laden in his gold-fringed robe, sitting beneath the canopy of a tent before a crowd of admiring villagers and guarded by the loyal Arab mujahedin who fought alongside him in Afghanistan. Bearded, silent figures—unarmed, but never more than a few yards from the man who recruited them, trained them and then dispatched them to destroy the Soviet army—they watched unsmiling as the Sudanese villagers lined up to thank the Saudi businessman who was about to complete the road linking their slums to Khartoum for the first time in history.

My first impression was of a shy man. With his high cheekbones, narrow eyes and long brown robe, he would avert his eyes when the village leaders addressed him. He seemed ill-at-ease with gratitude, incapable of responding with a full smile when children in miniature chadors danced in front of him and preachers admired his wisdom. “We have been waiting for this road through all the revolutions in Sudan,” a bearded sheikh announced. “We waited until we had given up on everybody—and then Osama bin Laden came along.” I noticed how bin Laden, head still bowed, peered up at the old man, acknowledging his age but unhappy that he should be sitting at ease in front of him, a young man relaxing before his elders. He was even more unhappy at the sight of a Westerner standing a few feet away from him, and from time to time he would turn his head to look at me, not with malevolence but with grave suspicion.

Kashoggi put his arms around him. Bin Laden kissed him on both cheeks, one Muslim to another, both acknowledging the common danger they had endured together in Afghanistan. Jamal Kashoggi must have brought the foreigner for a reason. That is what bin Laden was thinking. For as Kashoggi spoke, bin Laden looked over his shoulder at me, occasionally nodding. “Robert, I want to introduce you to Sheikh Osama,” Kashoggi half-shouted through children’s songs. Bin Laden was a tall man and he realised that this was an advantage when he shook hands with the English reporter. Salaam aleikum. His hands were firm, not strong, but, yes, he looked like a mountain man. The eyes searched your face. He was lean and had long fingers and a smile which—while it could never be described as kind—did not suggest villainy. He said we might talk, at the back of the tent where we could avoid the shouting of the children.

Looking back now, knowing what we know, understanding the monstrous beast-figure he would become in the collective imagination of the world, I search for some clue, the tiniest piece of evidence, that this man could inspire an act that would change the world for ever—or, more to the point, allow an American president to persuade his people that the world was changed for ever. Certainly his formal denial of “terrorism” gave no hint. The Egyptian press was claiming that bin Laden had brought hundreds of his Arab fighters with him to Sudan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum was suggesting that some of the Arab “Afghans” whom this Saudi entrepreneur had flown to Sudan were now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Bin Laden was well aware of this. “The rubbish of the media and embassies,” he called it. “I am a construction engineer and an agriculturalist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn’t possibly do this job.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

"A magisterial report from the shifting front lines of the Middle East. It deserves to be read by all those concerned with what is happening in Iraq today." —The Boston Globe“A stimulating and absorbing book, by a man who . . . has met the leading players, from bin Laden to Ahmad Chalabi. . . . A formidable production.” —The New York Times Book Review“Vivid, graphic, intense. . . . A book of unquestionable importance. . . . [Fisk’s] experience of war is unmatched, [as is] his capacity to convey that experience in concrete, passionate language.” —The Washington Post Book World“Fisk’s magnum opus. . . . Seals [his] place as a venerable, indispensable contributor to informed debate in and about the Middle East.” —The Nation“Powerful . . . Mr. Fisk is a gifted writer and an accomplished storyteller . . . his love affair with the region and the glamorous profession of being a foreign correspondent finds expression on every page.” —The Economist

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2912 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 1397 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1841150088
  • Editeur : Fourth Estate (5 juin 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00K4Q3HY6
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  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
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7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Making sense of the chaos 8 février 2006
This is an intriguing history book - couldn't put it down. If the term "history" sounds excessive for the work of a journalist, that is because Robert Fisk is no ordinary "war correspondant". Fisk understands history as it happens, and clearly wants to be more than just a reporter. Factually the book is huge: he has covered all the principle events of the Middle East for 30 years: the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, the American Gulf Wars, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Algerian troubles, and many other events. Fisk also gives interesting insights into the manipulation of journalism itself - the vocabulary of politics; the word games of communication.
The book's approach is interesting by returning to the First World War (in which his father fought) Through time-jumping (the book does not follow any strict chronology) Fisk attempts to explain the source, and the complexities of the Middle East's problems, dealing with countries or wars chapter by chapter. This is a heavy read of 1200 pages but constructed with a sense of wisdom and simplicity that makes sense of what appears to be 30 years of chaos.
Only doubts: Fisk seems strangely intrigued by war (perhaps a psychological inheritance from his father?) For an anti-war war correspondant, his descriptions of witnessing battles up-close at times reveal a certain sense of awe, dare I say "fascination". But perhaps I'm reading between the lines! You also feel he harbours a distaste for all things Israeli. The horrors of the Israeli invasion of the Lebannon (where he lived) appear to have left their mark on Fisk, the man. Having said that, he writes with great intellectual integrity and definitely attempts to be fair, explaining "the truth" from a variety of angles. Read it.
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4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 UNE FRESQUE EXCEPTIONNELLE 8 décembre 2005
Une fresque exceptionnelle sur le Moyen-Orient et ses convulsions . Robert Fisk nous fait bénéficier dans ce livre son expérience sur le terrain . Sens de l'analyse et fabuleuse connaissance du monde oriental et de sa psychologie , tout concourt à faire de cet ouvrage un document de référence qui fait date.De l'Iran à l'Irak, Robert Fisk nous dévoile des événements peu connus du grand public.Avec beaucoup d'humanité ce prestigieux journaliste nous montre les souffrances des peuples de cette région , soumis aux "impératifs" des puissances occidentales , Angleterre et surtout USA , qui depuis plus de cinquante ans cherchent à imposer un mode de vie dicté par des intérêts économiques et non par un souci de démocratie, souci loin de leurs préoccupations mercantiles .En conclusion un livre courageux, parfaitement documenté et qui se lit avec passion.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent book 2 septembre 2014
Par O'Bs
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Excellent history book for anyone interested in what's going on in the middle east (and around the world) today. Thank you Mr. Fisk.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  198 commentaires
210 internautes sur 216 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 brilliant historical analyses, moving memoir, and howl of outrage 12 janvier 2007
Par Robert J. Crawford - Publié sur
If you are like me, once you've established your basic opinion on something, you tend to skim the newspapers on the subject, often only reading headlines and maybe the first few paragraphs. So it has been with me and the Middle East conflicts over the last 30 years. However, every so often, a book like this comes out that is so deep, so excellent, and so challenging that it will wipe out all my cozy assumptions and ignite an interest that will carry me for several years at a minimum.

I read this over a period of months with a mixture of fascination and revulsion. It is in my opinion a literary masterpiece by a courageous reporter who is also a true intellectual, steeped in history as well as the stories of people that great journalists seek like air or food. There are so many levels to this book that a review cannot do it justice, but I will try.

First, there is the autobiographical side of this, where Fisk explains his obsession with war and injustice and man's inhumanity to man - it originated with his conflict with his father, a WWI veteran, which leads to his search for the truth and the need to document the lives of those who suffer. At times very moving, always vivid, this in many ways is the core of the book's theme.

Second, there are the historical analyses of conflicts starting with WWI and its aftermath - the Balfour Declaration - that saw the carve-up of the Ottoman Empire and the beginnings of the modern Middle East. This covers a huge range of countries, from Algeria to Turkey and Iran. You can see the roots of where the conflct started with the end of Turkish authority, how it got complicated by decolonization and the establishment of Israel, and how it has evolved into an increasingly murderous direction. Because of the superficial grasp I had of the history, I learned a tremendous amount from this, including from the first systematic account of the Armenian genocide, to the civil wars in virtually all the rest of the countries covered. Not everything is covered, however, only what Fisk investigated on assignment. In a sense, he is showing how similar the recent actions - even the rhetoric - of Bush are to the first forays of European imperialists in the 1920s.

Third, there is a political analysis of the root of the current crisis that increasingly pits the US and Israel against the Moslem world. In a nutshell that badly oversimplifies, Fisk argues that the US has always taken Israel's side uncriticially and unequivocably, which Moslems have taken as unfair and inimical to their causes and civilization; the West always makes expedient promises that it never intends to keep, while allowing the Israelis free rein to be as brutal as they wish with the Palestinians. This, Fisk argues, has contributed to their hostility to the West, even to terrorism. Fisk also laments how this cannot even be questionned - he recounts how often he is often accused of anti-semitism for opinions contrary to the pro-Israeli view. Agree or disagree, this gets you to think more deeply than one is accustomed to about this conflict, if your major source is American newspapers, that is.

Fourth, this book is a critique of his profession, which now largely has been "embedded" with US soldiers in the Irak conflict. Here he sets a high standard indeed, recounting his adventures and near death experiences while doing his job - he was attacked by a mob in Afghanistan, which the Wall Street Journal said he deserved for his "self hatred", that is, his critical comments of Bush's policies! I was shocked to learn that CNN now requires its experts on the scene to submit all comments in advance for "approval" by editors in the US, though had suspected it was like that given how canned CNN has come to sound. While praising a few, Fisk also takes many to task for laxness and sleazy intrigues to their own advantage. In particular, he is very hard on American journalists, most of whom he sees as uncritical and even tendentious in their coverage.

Fifth, there are trenchant analyses of recent events that are as provocative as they are shocking. For example, Fisk believes that the Rabin-Arafat Oslo accords were so slanted in Israel's favor that it was doomed to fail, which really shocked me as it had been universally hailed in the newspapers I read as the best peace possible, etc. But there is also the Algerian revoltes of the 1990s, Beirut, of course, and the many wars of the lsat 30 years. In one section, he gives a fascinating analysis on the relation of Saudi Arabia's brand of conservative Islam, Wahabism, with the Taliban's ideology. It was all a perspective new to me and exactly what I was hoping to find. This includes an analysis of the language and rhetoric used to describe events, which Fisk argues shape not only the way we see things but policy options. For example, in labelling people "terrorists" they become totally indefensible, deserving to be killed by military means; however, as he shows over and over, this label is not consistently applied and used as a substitute for thinking and ends any possibliy of negotiation or conciliation.

Finally, there are amazing personal stories he finds, which make it into mainstream news, from interviews with Bin Laden to a fascinating inquiry to find who manufactured the missiles that killed innocent Palestinians. The book is packed with stories like these far too numerous to count. They can be tragic and cruel, meaningless deaths at the hands of those who are rarely punished.

All in all, reading this was wonderful. He covers the last 30 years in detail, roughly coinciding with the time that I became an obsessive follower of current events. So it is like a review of everything I read about - too quickly - in the Middle East over that time. Every page made me think more deeply on the area than I have in a long time, food for thought that will last me a long long time. Now I will have to read more....much more.

Warmly recommended. Fisk in my view is equally hard on everyone from an ethical point of view and is not biased as he has been accused of being. I will add his newspaper, the Independent, to my list of daily must skims!

Note: I have learned that Fisk is unpopular with his fellow journalists. Several of them who know him - and admit there is a lot of professional jealousy about him - have told me that he is known for making things up or embellishing. While I cannot prove this one way or the other, my sense is that his writing rings true.
84 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Journalism's Jiminy Cricket 11 janvier 2006
Par Stephen A. Haines - Publié sur
"Always let your conscience be your guide", sang Disney's dapper little bug. Robert Fisk adopts this theme in this monumental history of the modern Middle East. Prompted by a World War I soldier father's actions and admonitions, Fisk's sense of justice outweighs that mighty rock sitting at the gate to the Mediterranean Sea. As he travelled from "the Med's" shores to Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine and other states, he watched the growing unrest and resentment as the last world empire retreated to Downing Street and a new one emerged from the shores of the Potomac. With rising anger and no little resentment of his own, he records the sufferings of ordinary people as these empires played nations and their leaders as pawns in what the British Empire deemed "The Great Game". In graphic, and sometimes disturbing prose, he portrays how fear became the catalyst to inflict pain without reason or justice.

It would have been easy for Fisk to simply stack up his notes and have them bound as a volume of essays. Instead, he approaches his task by depicting the recent history of a locale. Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Palestine - the list is a detailed tour of a land deemed by history "The Cradle of Civilization" - hence his derived title. Each nation's recent history is reviewed. It's a sorry tale of interference from "outsiders", whether Christian West or Communist North. Centre to the tale is the imposition of the State of Israel on Palestine by the Balfour Declaration following the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The continuing presence of British and French "mandated" authorities remained a festering irritant to the Muslim populations. An uprising in Iraq in 1920 against the British presaged another, much later, "insurgency" which Fisk recounts in vivid detail.

The journalist in Fisk mostly kept him away from "leaders" except when necessary. Instead, he travels among the general populace, recording their fears, hopes, and all too often, griefs. That close and direct contact nearly cost Fisk his life when a refugee Afghan child identified him as "Mr Bush". That brought rocks, fists and kicking feet. Fisk was saved by an Afghan "Good Samaritan" who took him to a police truck. His reporting of the event was typical of a man who'd spent so much time recording the impact of selfish policies and mindless actions by the Western Powers. Like his rescuer, he forgave his attackers. He knew well what the Afghans had endured during the Russian occupation, Taliban domination and now the bombardment of villages and farms to rid their nation of "terrorists".

The response to his account regrettably typified what journalism had become at the beginning of the 21st Century. Instead of applauding his escape and his willingness to risk violence for a story, Western commentators jeered and vilified Fisk. Mark Steyn of "The Wall Street Journal" typified what Western journalists had become. By absolving the Afghans who resented the American presence in their country, Fisk, according to Steyn, had by association absolved the men who'd crashed airliners into the World Trade Centre on 2001-09-11. Fisk had been among the few writers who'd tried to explain what feelings might have led to such an act, while condemning it as a crime against humanity. Readers and other journalists didn't want explanations, they wanted revenge. The cost of that vengeance, Fisk contends, is the killing and maiming of thousands of innocent civilians - far more than died in the collapsing towers.

Fisk is clear on the fallacies and fabrications underlying the "Bush Crusade" into Iraq. He's even more vivid on its likely enduring results. The Iraqis, once victims of a Baath Party rule he vigorously condemns, now suffer a foreign occupation they neither wished nor will tolerate. He describes how manipulation of the words "terror" and "terrorist" has given the United States and Britain their excuse to commandeer the rich oil reserves under Iraq's deserts. By describing anybody who opposes their intrusion as "terrorist", in the same way that Israel could label Palestinians objecting to the colonisation of their lands, any act of suppression in justified. If air strikes or tank attacks kill civilians, whether armed or not, the dead are quickly deemed "terrorists" - even the children whose mangled bodies are part of the "body count" no "coalition" official will make. The media, he argues, not only fails to challenge these tactics, but willingly adopts them into their own accounts, furthering the deception and transforming it into common language.

It is the accounts of these innocent dead that inflate this book - giving it the size bemoaned by some reviewers. That plaint can only remind one of the Director of the Vienna Opera on Mozart's work - "too many notes". Are there too many words in this book? What would you excise: Fisk's account of his father's impact on his life? The stories of the dead or wounded in the Middle East resulting from ideological conflicts or repressive governments? Should we not read of Israel's standing aside while refugees are slaughtered, or US jets razing Baghdad streets? There is clearly nothing here deserving deletion. Indeed, it is among the most important "must read" books to appear. Do so and learn what has been kept hidden. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
72 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Monumental Achievement 13 décembre 2005
Par Daniel Raphael - Publié sur
It was an effort to read this book, in great measure because it describes in unflinching detail so many examples of what is worst in people. Unlike the saccharine and deliberately oblivious "reporting" we get in the corporate mainstream, Robert Fisk leaves the reader with no doubt about what war is really like, the failings of public figures on the international scene, and the pathetic condition of typical, contemporary "journalism."

He has spent 30 years in the Middle East, reporting on events in that part of the world. Living in Beirut, he has been close to the stories emanating from the nations in that crucial area. He has repeatedly risked his life to spread the real story of events and people's fate in hospital beds, slums, mountain tents, and torture chambers. His compassion for the powerless, the pawns of war, and targets of violence, is palpable; his disgust with lying officials and kangaroo-court judges, is unmistakable. This is a man who burns against injustice and manages to translate his anger into the chosen instrument of his life, the journalist's trade. Instead of taking up arms, he has taken up the pen--and we are all better off for it.

If you are concerned to understand what is taking place in the Middle East--which, in turn, affects the direction of so much else taking place in our world--read this book. It is smallish print with many asterisked footnotes and substantial notes...all running to practically 1100 pages of main text. Twenty-four chapters cover two Gulf Wars, including the current war in Iraq; the Iran-Iraq war; the despair of the Palestinians and resultant danger to all in that area of the world; the first holocaust--directed against the Armenian people; the Russian invasion of Afghanistan; his several face-to-face meetings with Osama bin Laden...and so much else. The Great War for Civilization is a work to absorb and refer to often; it will not soon be outdated--or equalled.
90 internautes sur 100 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fisk's definitive work 19 novembre 2005
Par A Lump Of Green Slime - Publié sur
I think this mammoth but absorbing book will eventually be regarded as the definitive journalistic work on recent Middle Eastern history and politics. In it, Fisk comes across more as a Wilfrid Owen of prose than some left-wing ideologue. What I also like about his writing is that it shows up all the main protagonists (Bush, Blair, Sharon, Arafat, Hamas, Hezbollah,Islamic Jihad, Shin Bet, Hussein, the Shah of Iran, Khomeni and so on) for what they are or were: as bad as each other. And that's what infuriates the different supporters of this motley bunch, isn't it? Nobody gets to claim the moral high ground.
120 internautes sur 136 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Outstanding book on the Middle East 11 novembre 2005
Par Larry R. Thorn - Publié sur
I'm close to halfway through this title. Although the page count is somewhat daunting, I have never picked it up and not become immediately engrossed.

Not a book for the faint-of-heart, as it describes many war scenes and tales of torture and mayhem. Perhaps the strongest parts of the book are when Fisk reports from his personal experiences in the Middle East. The writing is always superb, and my admiration for the writer grows by the page.
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