5 Books on Assyrians to Add to Your Summer Reading List


In preparation for summer beach bags, plane carry-ons, and afternoons spent by the pool: the AANF's list of five enriching books to read—all by Assyrian authors that offer an important perspective on various periods of modern Assyrian history:


Reforging a Forgotten History: Iraq and the Assyrians in the Twentieth Century

By Sargon George Donabed

Edinburgh University Press, 2015


Were they simply bystanders, victims of collateral damage who played a passive role in its history? Furthermore, how have they negotiated their position throughout various periods of Iraq's state-building processes? This book details a narrative of Iraq in the twentieth century and refashions the Assyrian experience as an integral part of Iraq's broader contemporary historiography. It is the first comprehensive account to contextualize a native experience alongside the emerging state. Using primary and secondary data, this book offers a nuanced exploration of the dynamics that have affected and determined the trajectory of the Assyrians' experience in twentieth-century Iraq. Available on Amazon.


Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, A History

By Joseph Yacoub

Oxford University Press, 2016


The Armenian Genocide of 1915 has been well documented. Much less known is the Turkish genocide of the Assyrian people, which occurred simultaneously in their ancient homelands in and around ancient Mesopotamia—now Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The advent of the First World War gave the Young Turks and the Ottoman government the opportunity to exterminate the Assyrians in a series of massacres and atrocities inflicted on a people whose culture dates back millennia and whose language, Aramaic, was spoken by Jesus. Systematic killings, looting, rape, kidnapping and deportations destroyed countless communities and created a vast refugee diaspora. As many as 300,000 Assyrians were murdered and a larger number forced into exile. Available on Amazon and via Oxford University Press.


State and Society in Iraq: Citizenship under Occupation, Dictatorship, and Democratization

By Benjamin Isakhan, Shamiran Mako, and Fadi Dawood

I.B. Tauris, 2017


The activities of ISIS since 2014 have brought back to centre stage a series of very old and very troubling questions about the integrity and viability of the Iraqi state. However, most analysts have framed recent events in terms of their immediate past and without the contextual background to explain their evolution. State and Society in Iraq moves beyond a short-sighted analysis to place the complex and contested nature of Iraqi politics within a broader and deeper historical examination. In doing so, the chapters demonstrate that beyond the overwhelming emphasis on failed occupations, cruel tyrants, ethnic separatists and violent religious fanatics, is an Iraqi people who have routinely agitated against the state, advocated for legitimate and accountable government, and called for inter-communal harmony. When, the authors maintain, the Iraqi people are given agency in the complex process of consent, negotiation and resistance that underpin successful state-society relations, the nation can move beyond patterns of oppression and cruelty, of dangerous rhetoric and divisive politics, and towards a cohesive, peaceful and prosperous future—despite the many difficulties and the steep challenges that lie ahead. Available on Amazon.


Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq, and Sudan

By Hannibal Travis

Carolina Academic Press, 2010


Genocide in the Middle East describes the genocide of the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians of the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; of the Kurds and other persons living under Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq in the late 1980s; and of the Dinka, Nuba, Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa peoples of Sudan from the 1970s to the present. It situates these crimes in their historical context, as outgrowths of intolerant religious traditions, imperialism and the rise of the nation-state, Cold War insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, and the global competition for resources and markets at the expense of indigenous peoples. This requires a more thorough investigation of the case law on genocide than has been attempted in the literature on genocide to date, including detailed accounts of the prosecutions of the leaders of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, of Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials after Operation Iraqi Freedom, and of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other leaders of Sudan by the International Criminal Court. Finally, the book explores emerging problems of genocidal terrorism, cultural genocide, and structural genocide due to starvation, disease, and displacement. Available on Amazon.


Assyria and the Paris Peace Conference

By Abraham K. Yoosuf

Nineveh Press, 2017


This book collects the known writings of the late Dr. Abraham K. Yoosuf (1866–1924). Despite his short lifetime (58 years), Dr. Yoosuf managed to accomplish many things. He is best known for his work as Assyrian delegate at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919–1920, where he fought for the rights of the Assyrians and their right to self-determination in Assyria. Available via Nineveh Press.

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