_'... the best single narrative history of the Kurds ... it certainly belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Middle East.'_ - Washington Post Book WorldThe division of the Kurdistan people among four modern nation states - Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran - and their struggle for national rights have been constant themes of recent Middle East history. They are also issues which, particularly in Iraq and Turkey, have never been so pressing as they are today. The Kurdish lands have been contested territory for many centuries: a perilous mountain tract through which trade caravans and armies have had to march, a bulwark against hostile powers and a source of defiance against state authority. From the 16th to the 19th century the Ottoman Empire and Persia vied to control the Kurds whose tribal leaders would compete in turn for state recognition. During the 20th century, however, rapid political and economic transition and conflicting attempts by the Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish governments on the one hand and by Turkish nationalists on the others have radically changed the conditions under which the struggle for Kurdistan takes place. In this detailed history of the Kurds from the 19th century to the present day, McDowall examines the interplay of old and new aspects of the struggle, the importance of local rivalries within Kurdish society, the enduring authority of certain forms of leadership and the failure of modern states to respond to the challenge of Kurdish nationalism. Drawing extensively on primary sources McDowall's book is useful for all who want a better understanding of the underlying dynamics of the Kurdish question.
Modern History of the Kurds