Four Centuries of Modern Iraq

Stephen Hemsley Longrigg


In 1925, when this book was originally published, no adequate resource on the recent history of Iraq existed; while the author acknowledges the work of historians on the period before the early 16th century, here he focuses on the least studied period, after that time and up to the early 20th century. Following the invasion of the Mongols in the 13th century, Iraq entered a long period of decline as its land was plundered and destroyed. Later, it was a neglected part of the Ottoman Empire, by which it was ruled from the 17th until the 19th century. The author uses oriental sources, the knowledge of local scholars and the experience of his long residence in Iraq to discuss the country’s turbulent history. He concludes that at the time of writing – the early 20th century – Iraq had made little progress since the 16th century. It was still not ready for self-government and had low standards of material life. It did not make use of its resources and the government provided little liberty and rights for the governed. We are left with a picture of a country that had once been great, but whose occupation by other forces had left its growth sadly stunted and squandered: a fascinating portrait of a country better known for its more recent history.