Visser’s book on Iraq now available for sale!

Reidar Visser’s magisterial 300-page book A Responsible End? The United States and Iraq, 2005-2010 is now available for sale from Amazon. Actually, it’s already selling really well there!
Long-time JWN readers will be quite familiar with the work of this smart and dedicated European researcher, who hangs his hat at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). I am really, really proud that this book, which is an author-curated compilation of Visser’s best contemporaneous writings on the subject, is in the inaugural (Fall 2010) list of my publishing company, Just World Books.
Visser and I signed a contract for the book back in spring, in the hope that the Iraqi parliamentary election of March 7 might fairly rapidly lead to the formation of a new Iraqi government and therefore to the end of the five-year “transition” period envisioned for Iraq’s first post-invasion elected government. That would give this collection of Visser’s blogged and other short analytical texts from 2005 until the present a clear start and end-point and therefore some strong thematic integrity.
But as we know, the leaders of Iraq’s four main political blocs dithered and dithered. (And the U.S. stood in the wings, urging them all to build a wall-to-wall coalition rather than leaving one or more of the blocs to play the– perhaps rather necessary?– role of a parliamentary opposition.) Long story short, it took them until November 11 to inaugurate the new prime minister, who by an amazing coincidence (irony alert!) is the same as the old prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. The “new” (also old) president and the actually new speaker of parliament were inaugurated at the same time.
Jalal Talabani’s inauguration on November 11 as sole president marked the end of the clunky former “presidential council” system and therefore also– in Reidar’s view, and also in mine– the end of the transition. (Iraq still doesn’t have a government– far less a government capable of delivering basic services to the citizenry… But that is all a slightly different issue.)
Regarding our publishing plans, Reidar and my editorial team had prepared just about all of the manuscript by late October. But in early November he said it seemed that the “end” of the transition could be close, so we held off on finalizing the book. And then on November 11 it happened. Reidar wrote one of his inimitably canny blog posts about the events of that day– that same evening. Then the following day, he wrote a few pieces of supplementary text that helped ease the new blog post into the right place in the book and expressed his final thoughts on the nature of the transition… My amazing contract typesetter Jane Sickon and I worked on the PDF that weekend. We had the first proof copies of the printed book in hand on November 15… and the final printed version went on sale at Amazon on November 24.
If you’re anywhere near Washington, DC, by the way, we will be formally launching the book at the Middle East Institute there at lunch-time next Tuesday. Reidar will be coming over to speak at the launch. We’ll have copies for sale; and he can discuss and sign your copy after the main discussion.
… The publication of Visser’s fine book marks the end of JWB’s fall 2010 publishing season. We have now published four fabulous titles and I venture to argue that not a single one of these books would exist in its present form today– or even, perhaps, ever– if I had not taken the decision to found this publishing company last spring, and if I had not worked with these four great writers to mold some of the best of their existing short-text oeuvre into the durable, familiar, and user-friendly format of a book.
Back in late September, when my editors and I were actively working with all these manuscripts, I discovered that the “self-curation” model of compilation that I had developed, and that I’d shared with all these authors, had had some amazing and largely unexpected results. I wrote then about those results that,

    In addition to providing the reader with a reliable and compelling authorial voice, the curating model allows a few other important things to happen in the text:

      * Because the blog posts and other short texts are presented in chronological order– whereas, for example, most blog archives are in reverse-chrono order– the curating model midwifes the emergence of a strong and sustained narrative in our books. Such a narrative may have been implicit for a devoted reader of the origin blog in question. But seeing it come out of the author-compiled chapters is a much more powerful experience.
      * Because the book’s constituent texts all come with their original dates of publication clearly marked, our authors and editors don’t need to go back in and correct and/or update them in any way. We know that this blog post was written on such-and-such a date in 2007, or the speech was delivered in 2008. We don’t expect anyone at that point in time to have foreseen the future! But it can still be really informative to see what this smart observer and/or analyst was indeed saying at that time. Keeping the constituent texts more or less as-is retains as much as possible of the freshness and quirkiness that can make reading blog posts (or listening to Chas Freeman speeches) such an engaging and enjoyable process.
      * Having the authors go back into their own past oeuvre and interact with– and comment on– it in the present gives the reader the rich experience of seeing this writer’s intellect actively at work in a reconsideration or re-presentation of his or her own past work. The word “curate” comes from the Latin for “to pay close, loving attention to.” And what we see in these books is these authors undertaking a close– hopefully loving?– and very thoughtful engagement with their own past oeuvre.

… Anyway, I hope all my great readers here at JWN will help us to spread the word about these books! They are all priced between $22.95 and $24.95. Our JWB sales page at Amazon is here. I think these books– all of which are very different!– can fill many of your gift-giving needs for the upcoming holiday season!
Two final points: If you and a group of friends or a local congregation or community group want to order a total of 12 or more of our titles (any mixture of them), contact our community outreach program to learn about the great terms on which we can fill those orders. Secondly, if you live on the U.S. west coast and would be interested in helping plan the west-coast tour that Laila El-Haddad will be undertaking in February 2011, to promote her fabulous Gaza Mom book, let us know as soon as you can, as we have just started that planning!
But my main message is this: Hearty congratulations to Reidar Visser, Laila El-Haddad, Joshua Foust, and Chas Freeman for authoring four fabulous and very important books for the reading public! They will sit on library shelves for generations, and bring your work into a form that is much richer than being “merely” the sum of its parts.

4 thoughts on “Visser’s book on Iraq now available for sale!

  1. Salah

    But as we know, the leaders of Iraq’s four main political blocs ……. (And the U.S. stood in the wings, ……………. perhaps rather necessary?– role of a parliamentary opposition.)
    And then:
    Jalal Talabani’s inauguration on November 11 as sole president marked the end of the clunky former “presidential council” system and therefore also– in Reidar’s view, and also in mine– the end of the transition.
    My answer to all of the writer and your thoughts and believes what is going on in Iraq is just gangs/thuggish guys protected by US put in Green Zone showing you and other who working hard to make others to believes this is a political process and its will midwife and democratic political and country.
    Both of you the writer and the host here living in democratic countries both of you value and believe, well informed what democracy all about.
    The fact is all things in Iraq, it have nothing to do with the sole of democracy as from the people to the people also its violated the very basic of the democratic rules were there is no discriminations of colour of religion or ethnicity with the people living under democratic rules. All we know a process complete of fake and lies where gangsters put in place with mercenaries/ Militias to rule by force none of them from top the big fat or others can walk and see normal Iraqis and their needs.
    Iraq a country is living in miserable statues according to UN and other independent agencies and bodies Iraq the most dangerous and corrupted place on our plants.
    Just to make you what Iraq today after more than seven years of what the host like to say “the transition” I picked these two article written by two different Iraqis
    One who was Iraqi rep. in untied nation and other very normal Iraqi who flee the tyrant time from Iraq, Bothe in Arabic text please read carefully and see what they say may help you to understand what “the transition” in Iraq and democracy all about

    ففي الصفحة الثلاثين من كتابه القيم المعنون (مصرع الكولونيل ليجمن) يقول الكاتب المرحوم عبد الجبار العمر: كان الفرات الاوسط قد آذن الاحتلال بحرب منه (يقصد الاحتلال البريطاني- كاتب المقال) فجمع ليجمن شيوخ عشائر “لواء الدليم” في الرمادي (بهدف اثارة مشاعرهم الطائفية – كاتب المقال) وأولم لهم وليمة فاخرة، وقال لهم: هنالك إضطرابات في النجف وما حولها ونريد أن نتعرف على آرائكم بشأنها.

    ( ولقطع الطريق على الكولونيل لجمن لاثارة تلك الفتنة – الكاتب) بادره ضاري “ويقصد الشيخ ضاري المحمود شيخ مشايخ زوبع”بقوله:إن أهل النجف يريدون حكومة وطنية لعموم العراق ونحن نتفق معهم بذلك.
    فأجابه ليجمن بقوله: وأنا أتفق معكم بهذا الخصوص وأعطف على مطاليبكم الوطنية، ولكن حكومة صاحب الجلالة في حيرة من أمرها، هل تجعل حكومة العراق شيعية أو سنية؟

    أجابه ضاري: ليس هناك شيعة وسنة في العراق، فالكل مسلمون ومن عنصر عربي.
    فتجاهل ليجمن جواب ضاري، وعقب كما لو انه يتم كلامه، وقد قررت الحكومة أن تأخذ رجال الدين هناك بالعقاب بجريمة التحريض على الاغتشاش. فألح ضاري الذي كان مصرا على الكلام خشية ان يأخذ باطرافه أصدقاء ليجمن ويؤثروا على الحاضرين بآرائهم الشاذة: هم أًولو أمرنا في الوقت الحاضر وذلك لعدم وجود حكومة شرعية في العراق وطاعتهم واجبة على كل مسلم واذا اتخذت الحكومة إجراءات ضدهم فسنكون الى جانبهم مهما أصابنا من جراء ذلك… وبهذا الموقف أبطل ضاري لعبة ليجمن الطائفية، وعندما عاد ضاري الى ديرته واجتمع برهطه قال لهم بنبرة ذات مغزى: لقد كسبت لكم عداوة الكرنل.
    وفي الصفحة 31 من الكتاب نفسه، يكمل السيد العمر قائلا: وفي عام 1900 بالضبط رد آية الله الميرزا حسين الشيرازي رحمه الله القنصل البريطاني ببغداد ردا غير جميل لأن الاخير أراد أن يستغل حادثة وقعت للامام في سامراء فعرض عليه حماية بريطانيا العظمى على ما حدثني به الاستاذ علي آل بازركان رحمه الله. ويستمر السيد العمر قائلا: ولكي ننصف الاستعمار فانه لا يفرق في تنفيذ خططه بين مسلم ومسيحي. روى الشيخ كاظم الدجيلي في رسالته التي كتبها الى الاب انستاس ماري الكرملي عن ثورة العشرين أن الانكليز بعد أن يئسوا من إيجاد ثغرة بين المذاهب الاسلامية عمدوا الى إثارة الشحناء بين الطوائف الدينية وذلك باختلاق وسيلة يتوصلون بها الى الفتك بأهل بغداد، وقد أعدوا الفرصة المناسبة لذلك يوم عيد الجسد، وتدبروا تلك المكيدة الشنيعة وهي أنهم يأتون بعدة رجال من البوليس الوطني ( ما اشبه الليلة بالبارحة) من خادمي أفكارهم من المسلمين ويلبسونهم ثياب العلماء الاسلامية وعمائم بيضاء ويعطون بيد كل واحد منهم مسدسا ويتركونهم يندسون مع المتفرجين حتى اذا مرت الحفلة في الجادة الكبرى هجموا عليها وقتلوا من صبيانها وصباياها بضعة أنفس وبذلك يتسنى للحكومة ضرب الاهلين والمطالبة بحفظ الاقلية باسم الدين (مثلما يحصل هذه الايام تماما) . ولما طرق خبر هذه المؤامرة الفضيعة مسامع النصارى خافوا على اولادهم وبناتهم من القتل فاوعزوا الى رؤسائهم الروحيين انهم لا يرسلون اولادهم وبناتهم للاشتراك باحتفال عيد الجسد الا اذا كان الاحتفال لا يخرج عن المحلة التي في دائرة الكنائس الاربع! (التي تقع في منطقة السنك) اللاتين والسريان والارمن والكلدان.

    جريمة كنيسة النجاة ….. والذاكرة العراقية

    والدنيا صارت هي الهم الأكبر ومال الناس مع الأغنياء وتقمص السياسيون دور حرامي بغداد ولكن من النوع الثقيل وهم في خشية دائمة من الفقر ,أجسامهم أجسام الآدميين وقلوبهم قلوب الشياطين ويقولون لخزائنهم هل أمتلئت فتقول هل من مزيد وليس مهماً من أين وكيف والحيل الشرعية والفانونية والأعذار جاهزة دائماً
    ولم يعد من السهل أن تجد من تثق به عندها يذاب قلب المؤمن وجوفه مما يرى من المنكر فلا يستطيع أن يغيره

    شاهدت في بغداد الحبيبة

  2. ctrenta

    Now that Amazon is not hosting the Wikileaks website, is Just World Books considering to boycott selling your books there? Just wondering.

  3. Shirin

    It seems you are having a great inaugural year for your publishing enterprise. Congratulations, and best wishes for continuing success. You are publishing information that is very much needed in this – no, in every – day and age.

  4. Salah

    recent events of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of democracy, and in Australia, the establishment of democracy at the expense of Indigenous sovereignty, makes me fearful of what the democratic may mean if it is sketched in terms of the entry of an ‘other’. Indeed, Derrida suggests that it can easily become a threat.

    (Im)possible Co-existence: notes from a bordered,
    sovereign present

    borderlands e- journal, by Goldie Osuri, Macquarie University

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