The Kurds: A People in Search of Their Homeland

Book review by Deane Barker tags: history, middle-east

Here’s my problem with this book – it wasn’t a history, it was more of a personal memoir.

I was expecting the detailed story of the Kurdish people, but instead I got a story about the author and how he interacted with the Kurds over the course of several decades.

The author had some history with Native Americans, it seems. He was in South Dakota (my home state) several times, and had covered significant events in Native American history. He often compared the plight of the Kurds to that of Natvie Americans.

And, to be fair to the author, he had significant interactions with the Kurds and access to Kurdistan. He went there seemingly dozens of times, and tells story after story about what happened and what he saw.

But, honestly, that’s where he kind of lost me. He jumps around a lot – back and forth in time, it seemed. One minute he’s talking about Year X, then he’s 10 years later, and then he’s 30 years earlier. I really started to get confused.

The book did reinforce two salient points:

  • There is no country of Kurdistan. The Kurds are a people who would like a country, but right now they live in the intersection of four other countries – Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria – and are uniformly hated and persecuted by all of them.
  • The Kurds have been waiting on the United States for a long, long time to help them. They keep thinking the U.S. is going to step in, then it doesn’t happen, then the U.S. goes to war with Iraq (both times) and the Kurds get their hopes up again, only to be disappointed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But what this point was missing was a comprehensive history of the Kurdish people, which is what I was looking for. In that sense, the title and subtitle of the book seem a little inaccurate to me.

I made it about two-thirds of the way through before I bailed out.

Book Info