The Rope

The Rope

A Novel

Book - 2016
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"From the best-selling author of Republic of Fear, a gritty, unflinching, haunting novel about Iraqi failure in the wake of the 2003 American war. Told from the perspective of a Shi'ite militiaman whose participation in the execution of Saddam Hussein changes his life in ways he could not anticipate, the novel examines the birth of sectarian politics out of a legacy of betrayal and victimhood. A nameless narrator stumbles upon a corpse on the day of the fall of Saddam Hussein. Swept up in the tumultuous politics of the American occupation, he is taken on a journey that concludes with the discovery of what happened to his father who disappeared in the tyrant's Gulag in 1991. His questions about his father, like those surrounding the mysterious corpse outside his house, were ignored by his mother, and by his uncle, in whose house he was raised. But he is older now, and a fighter in his uncle's Army of the Awaited One, which is leading an insurrection against the occupation. Clues accumulate: a letter surreptitiously delivered to his mother during his father's imprisonment; stories told by his dying grandfather. Not until the last hour before the tyrant's execution, is the narrator given the final piece of the puzzle. It comes from Saddam Hussein himself. It is a story about loyalty and betrayal; victims turned victimizers; secrecy and loss. And about identity--the haste with which it is cobbled together, or undone, always at terrible cost. It is a story that will stay with readers long after they finish the final page"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon, 2016
ISBN: 9781101870471
Branch Call Number: FICTION Makiya, Kanan
Characteristics: ix, 319 pages ; 22 cm


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tritonesub Mar 27, 2016

Hindsight is 20/20. And what if it showed that you were somehow connected to the death of half a million people? That was the question I had when I started reading this book. Mr. Makiya was undoubtedly one of the strongest proponents of the U.S. military invasion in Iraq in 2003. Reading the many interviews he had given, my thoughts were that he was a "foreigner" Iraqi who pointed out the atrocities Saddam Hussein's regime had committed, set about convincing the major players to depose Saddam Hussein, which set off a cascade of events which spun completely out of control.

This book is fiction, and I am glad for that since it allows the reader to empathize with the characters. It also allowed me to put some distance between the role the author played in the events, and the book itself. Are the characters based on Mr. Makiya and those he knew? Is this book a mea culpa, or an effort to paint the Iraqi elite as the real culprit? It could be all those things, or none. What the book showed me were the emotional turmoil of those living in Najaf and Baghdad, the friendships, relationships between fathers and sons, between brothers, the betrayals, and the psychological cost of being in that environment which ultimately leads to the loss of humanity. And it can be extremely moving, and very sad.

At this point in time, we know that deposing a leader will not automatically open the door to a functional democracy. Democracy will not rise out of a vacuum. Economy, demography, religion, language, national identity and so many other factors have to be dealt with first, before one can even begin to think of nudging a particular nation toward functional democracy. By humanizing those in the cauldron, and shedding light onto the mundane, perhaps this book allows the world to better understand the situation so that we do not make the same mistakes again. Don't miss the Personal Note at the end of the book.


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