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Black Flags methodically lays out the background and rise of what we now know as ISIS, or the Islamic State. It's not because Islam is a flawed religion. It's not because Middle Eastern cultures are flawed. Much of the blame points back at American arrogance and thoughtlessness, in particular the decision to take on regime change and nation building in Iraq. The author makes the case that ISIS emerged from AQI lead by Jordanian al Zarqawi and a post invasion Iraq with all the American foibles created a fertile breeding ground for such a movement.
The first two thirds of the book covered al Zarqawi's background, the US invasion of Iraq, the subsequent insurgency and Zarqawi's death in 2006. The last third covers the "Arab Spring", Syria and the emergence of the ISIS brand. Unfortunately the ending is somewhat arbitrary as the story of ISIS is an ongoing one. Such is the case with books that feature current events. It does however give an excellent historical perspective of the past 15-20 years, and hopefully someday soon we will be able to read a true post-game analysis by this author. In the mean time, I will seek out his work at the Washington Post and other news outlets.
If you really want to understand how such a thing as ISIS can even exist, this is the book to read.
2016 reading challenge checks the box for 13. A non-fiction book you learn something new from (include self-help). I learned a fuckton from this book.
Thanks to Vivian and Emma for the cute-therapy they provided to counter program this difficult subject matter.