Black Flags

Black Flags

The Rise of ISIS

Book - 2015
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"A Best Book of 2015"-- The New York Times , The Washington Post , People Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle , Kansas City Star , and Kirkus Reviews

In a thrilling dramatic narrative, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.

When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. In Black Flags, an unprecedented character-driven account of the rise of ISIS, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Zarqawi began by directing terror attacks from a base in northern Iraq, but it was the American invasion in 2003 that catapulted him to the head of a vast insurgency. By falsely identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, U.S. officials inadvertently spurred like-minded radicals to rally to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings persisted until American and Jordanian intelligence discovered clues that led to a lethal airstrike on Zarqawi's hideout in 2006.
His movement, however, endured. First calling themselves al-Qaeda in Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, his followers sought refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and as the U.S. largely stood by, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi's dream of an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.
Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today's most dangerous extremist threat.
Publisher: New York, New York : Doubleday, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780385538213
Characteristics: xvii, 344 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations, maps, portraits ;,25 cm


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May 26, 2018

Along with The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright, Joby Warrick's Black Flags is essential reading for understanding the environment of our reality today as the West faces an true ideological enemy in radical Islamic terror groups.

An informative and enlightening discussion regarding the rise of ISIS, the players, past events, and the current crisis reshaping the Middle East. Although a difficult subject matter, a must read for those concerned by the real and ongoing threats against freedom and humanity.

Apr 22, 2017

Ordinary journalistic writing.

hschmidl Oct 18, 2016

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, Warrick’s book provides a readable and accessible overview of the founding of ISIS for any reader, whether or not they have prior knowledge of the history of the Middle East. Warrick provides interesting and relevant background on the history of the region and on all the figures he discusses in order to provide the reader with an understanding of the broader context out of which ISIS emerged. Despite the heavy subject matter, Warrick’s journalistic style makes the book a quick read.

jennargreen Jul 09, 2016

This book is an excellent summary of the development of ISIS... you don't have to know much about US involvement in Iraq/Syria, the jihad movement, or basically anything the book covers to find it very readable and interesting. The flow is very fast paced and easy, and quotes are seamlessly included.

Warrick's sources offer really good, candid insight. My only criticism is that towards the end he kind of disregards Obama's initial opposition to US involvement in Syria and implies that needing to arm moderate rebels was obvious at the start of the war. Here, he leaned a little too hard toward his sources.

Oct 09, 2015

[Update: with the interview of former DIA director, Michael Flynn, by al Jazeera and the FOIA'd document from the DIA, thanks to Judicial Watch, it certainly appears there was nothing inadvertent or accidental about it, arms and money flowed from the US government, Saudi Arabia to ISIS.]
// By identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, the CIA inadvertently created a monster. \\ Inadvertently??? Some might disagree strongly with that statement! If the latest news reports are accurate, we are now witnessing Russian military easily vanquishing ISIS - - which might lead one to believe the US was hardly trying? [Wonder where Joby interned during his college years?]

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