An all-Iraqi cast of eighteen authors has combined to put together the single most informative book on today's Iraq. In outlook, the authors (all in exile, of course, except for a few in the Kurdish autonomous region) extend from Marxist to Kurdish nationalist, but all of them share a seriousness of purpose spawned by Saddam Husayn's horrors. Their subjects range from the abstract (Kanan Makiya on the need for tolerance) to the specific (Rend Rahim Francke on the makeup of the Iraqi opposition).
Two articles particularly stand out: Suha Omar argues that the improvement of women's rights in Iraq is a sham. The government insists on at least five children per mother and uses the General Federation of Iraqi Women to police women and to procure them for high officials. Omar concludes that, given the realities of Saddam's Iraq, "women's equality before the law and their right to vote and hold office are sources of pain and oppression rather than pleasure and liberation." Faleh `Abd al-Jabbar explains that the anti-Saddam revolt of March 1991 (called the intifada) failed because the exiled opposition leadership misjudged the mood in Iraq, "overestimating the strength of Saddam's appeal to Iraqi patriotism." Had the exiles been more bold, he writes, they could have led the Kurds and Shi`is to victory over the despot.