Books about Kurdistan

Many books have been written on Kurdistan and many more are awaited. There are two key books that offer in-depth background information and insights on where the Kurdistan Region has come from.  Both books, written separately and at very different times, fit together.

The Kurdish National Movement:  Its Origins and Development   

By Wadie Jwaideh (Syracuse University Press, 2006)

Based on a PhD dissertation submitted to Syracuse University in 1960. Jwaideh was a Christian born in Basra who served the Iraqi Government in Iraqi Kurdistan during the 1940s. Much of his research was conducted in Britain and France, and also at Harvard and Johns Hopkins Universities. He served on the faculty of Indiana University for over 25 years from where he retired in 1987 as chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures which he was instrumental in establishing.

Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement (1931-1961)   

By Masoud Barzani (Palgrave MacMillan, 2003)

Excels not only for its observations and insights, but also for the publication of numerous documents. For example, an especially telling document is Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Sa'id's letter of resignation. And there are many more.  

Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History  

By Susan Meiselas  (University of Chicago Press, 2008) Available in both hardback and paperback, beautifully illustrated with old and more recent photos, 472 pages. A treasure.  

Journey Among Brave Men  

By Dana Adams Schmidt   (Little, Brown, 1964)

Another treasure. From an obituary in The New York Times:  "Mr. Schmidt was with The Times from 1943 to 1972. He won the Overseas Press Club's George Polk Award in 1963 for "the best reporting requiring exceptional courage and enterprise abroad" for a series of articles on the Kurdish rebels in Iraq. At the time, Mr. Schmidt was based in Beirut, Lebanon."

After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness   

By Jonathan Randal  (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Stories of Kurdistan's failures in becoming a nation-state and the role of international powers, including their betrayals. Based on firsthand observations by one of the earliest correspondents to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Invisible Nation: How the Kurds' Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East   

By Quil Lawrence (Walker & Company, 2008)

An account of the effects of the Kurdish struggle for statehood since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 to the events of 1991 with the formation of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and the continuing pursuit since 2003 of autonomy in post-Saddam Iraq.

Road Through Kurdistan: The Narrative of an Engineer in Iraq 

By Archibald Milne Hamilton  (Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2005) 

First published in 1937 this book is about what today is still called the 'Hamilton Road', one of the world’s great drives, through the deepest canyons in the Middle East and up through the highest mountains in Iraq, built in 1928-1932 to connect the British and Persian Empires. Earlier used hardback editions are available for about $20 and up.  The latest edition (2005, paperback) is available used for about $200! and new for about $350!!

My Father's Paradise:  A Son's Search for His Family's Past 

By Ariel Sabar  (Algonquin Books, 2009)

A delightful book about a delightful person that begins among the Jews of Zakho.

My Father's Rifle:  A Childhood in Kurdistan    

By Hiner Saleem   (Picador, 2006)

The Cradle of Mankind:  Life in Eastern Kurdistan  

By WA and ETA Wigram   (A & C Black, 1914)

A People Without a Country:  The Kurds and Kurdistan  

By Gerard Chaliand   (Interlink Publishing Group, 1993)

The Kurdish National Movement  

By Chris Kutschera   (e-book, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2012)

When the Borders Bleed: The Struggle of the Kurds  

By Ed Kashi and Christopher Hitchens   (Pantheon, 1994)

Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan:  Travels on Horseback in 1890 Volume One  

By Isabella Bird   (Long Riders’ Guild Press, first published 1891)

To improve her health, intrepid Isabella Bird traveled from Britain alone by ship and on horseback during the late 19th century to Australia, “to Hawaii where her health miraculously improved”, the Rocky Mountains, Japan, Malaya, Morocco, Turkey, Tibet and Ladakh, Korea and China, and Persia and Kurdistan.  She was the first woman inducted into the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan II  

By Isabella Bird   (Virago Press Ltd., 1989)

A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts:  Journeys in Kurdistan   

By Christiane Bird  (Random House, 2005, paperback)  

The author traveled around Kurdistan avoiding the usual places and people by staying with families to observe and absorb Kurdish culture.

To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise  

By Ely Banister Soane   (Cosimo, Inc., 2007)

Iraq and Rupert Hay’s Two Years in Kurdistan   by Paul J. Rich   (Lexington Books, 2008)  Detailing two years (1918-1920) in the life of a British political officer charged with establishing and maintaining British rule in the Kurdish district of Arbil in Iraq, this personal account provides a thorough discussion of Kurdish society from the viewpoint of Captain William Rupert Hay. Chronicling the British government's desperate attempts to establish a civil administration in Iraq just after World War I, Two Years in Kurdistan shows how, as member of the Indian Political Service, Captain Hay attempted to bring British rule to his corner of Iraq.

The Kurds:  A Concise Handbook

By Mehrdad R. Izady  (Taylor & Francis, 1992).  Well researched by an academic of tribes, political parties, and much more.

The Kurds: A National Denied

By David McDowall   (Minority Rights Group, 1992)

A Modern History of The Kurds

By David McDowall (IB Tauris, 1997)

Kurds Turks and Arabs: Politics, Travel and Research in North-Eastern Iraq 1919-1925

By CJ Edmonds (Oxford University Press, 1957)

Kurds, Arabs and Britons:  The Memoir of Col. W.A. Lyon in Kurdistan, 1918-1945

By David K. Fieldhouse  (IB Tauris, 2002)

The Kurdish Republic of 1946

By William Eagleton   (Oxford U P, 1963)

An Introduction to Kurdish Rugs and Other Weavings

By William Eagleton   (Interlink Pub Group, 1988)

Agha, Shaikh and State:  The Social and Political Structures of Kurdistan

By Martin van Bruinessen   (Zed Books, 1992)

Free download:

The Kurds of Iraq

By Michael M. Gunter   (St. Martin's Press, 1992)

Blood and Belief

By Aliza Marcus   (New York University Press, 2007)

A Poisonous Affair:  America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja

By Joost R. Hiltermann   (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Iraq’s Crime of Genocide: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds

By Human Rights Watch   (Yale University Press, 1995)

The Goat and The Butcher: Nationalism and State Formation in Kurdistan-Iraq since the Iraqi War

By Robert Olson   (Mazda Publishers, 2005)

The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in the 1990s: Its Impact on Turkey and the Middle East

Robert Olson, Editor (The University Press of Kentucky, 1996)

Kurdistan: Region Under Siege

By Karl Bodnarchuk (Lerner Publishing Group, 2000)

The Kurdish Question in Iraq

By Edmund Ghareeb (Syracuse University Press, 1981)

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

By Michael M. Gunter (The Scarecrow Press, 2004)

The Kurds Ascending: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey

By Michael M. Gunter   (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008)

The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis

By Michael M. Gunter   (St. Martin’s Press, 1999)

The Kurdish Nationalist Movement:  Opportunity, Mobilization and Identity

By David Ramano (Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Kurdistan: Crafting of National Selves

By Christopher Houston (Indiana University Press, 2008)

Kurdish Identity: Human Rights and Political Status

Edited by Charles G. MacDonald and Carole A. O'Leary (University Press of Florida, 2007)

Martyrs, Traitors and Patriots:  Kurdistan After the Gulf War

By Sheri Laizer (Zed Books, 1996)  

The Kurds in Iraq: The Past, Present and Future

By Kerim Yildiz (Pluto Press, 2007)

Kurdish Culture and Identity

Edited by Philip Kreyenbroek and Christine Allison (Zed Books, 1996)

Kurdistan on the Global Stage:  Kinship, Land, and Community in Iraq

By Diane E. King (Rutgers University Press, 2013)

“Anthropologist Diane E. King has written about everyday life in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq which covers much of the area long known as Iraqi Kurdistan”

Kurdish Culture:  A Cross-Cultural Guide

By Denise L. Sweetnam (Verlag fur Kultur und Wissenschaft, 1994)

The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today's Politics

By William Safire  (Random House, 1992)

This book is dedicated to Mustafa Barzani who William Safire says is the most Joban character he ever met.

The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq

By Brendan O'Leary, John McGarry, and Khaled Salih (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006)

How to Get Out of Iraq with Integrity

By Brendan O'Leary (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009)

The Kurds of Iraq: Building a State Within a State

By Ofra Bengio (Lynn Rienner Pub, 2012)


By Gareth Stansfield (Polity Press, 2007)

Good source for understanding background history and politics of how the KRI got to where it is.

The Kurdish Quasi-State

By Denise Natali   (Syracuse University Press, 2010)

Kurdistan – a Nation Emerges

By Jonathan Fryer (Stacy International, 2010)

The Man in Blue Pyjamas: Prison Memoir in the Form of a Novel

By Jalal Barzanji (University of Alberta Press, 2011)

A Fire in My Heart; Kurdish Tales

By Diane Edgecomb, Mohammed MA Ahmed, Cetel Ozel   (Libraries Unlimited Inc., 2007)

Kurdistan – A Companion

By Parwez Zabihi and Yvonne van der Bijl   (Gilgamesh Publishing, 2013)

Elvis Is Titanic:  Classroom Tales from Iraqi Kurdistan

By Ian Klaus (Vintage, 2008)

Love in a Torn Land:  Joanna of Kurdistan: The True Story of a Freedom Fighter’s Escape from Iraqi VE…

By Jean Sasson   (Wiley, 2007)

Jewish Subjects and Their Tribal Chieftains in Kurdistan

By Mordechai Zaken   (BRILL, 2007)

The Long March of The Kurds:  40 years of history in the making

By Chris Kutschera

The Kurds:  A People in Search of Their Homeland

By Kevin Mckiernan (St. Martin’s Press, 2006)

The Kurds: A Nation on the Way to Statehood

By Jamal Jalal Abdullah (authorhouse, 2012)

The Kurds of Iraq

By Michiel Hegener (Mets & Schilt, 2010)

Hell Is Over: Voices of the Kurds after Saddam, An Oral History

By Mike Tucker (The Lyons Press, 2004)

Humanitarian Intervention Assisting the Iraqi Kurds in Operation Provide Comfort, 1991

By Gordon W. Rudd and US Army Center of Military History   (Military Bookshop, 2012)

The Kurds of Iraq: Ethnonationalism and National Identity in Iraqi Kurdistan

By Mahir A. Aziz (Tauris Academic Studies, 2011)

Turning Enemies into Friends: Change in Turkey’s Relations with KRG:  How Iraqi Kurds became Turkey’s best ally in the Middle East

By Minhac Celik   (Lap Lambert Academic, 2013)

The Militant Kurds:  A Dual Strategy for Freedom

By Eccarius-Kelly   (Praeger Cloth A Titles, 2010)

The Kurds: Nationalism and Politics

By Faleh A. Jabar and Hosham Dawood (Saqi Books, 2007)

The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd: Dreaming Kurdistan

By Carol Prunhuber   (iUniverse, 2010, also Kindle Edition)

The United States, Iraq and the Kurds: Shock, Awe and Aftermath

By Mohammed Shareef (Routledge, 2014)

The Kurds (Genocide and Persecution)

By Noah Berlatsky (Greenhaven Press, 2013)

Iraqi Kurds and Nation-Building

By Mohammed MA Ahmed (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, also Kindle Edition)

The Kurds and US Foreign Policy:  International Relations in the Middle East since 1945

By Marianna Charountaki (Routledge, 2010, also Kindle Edition)

The Kurds in Iraq

By Kerim Yildiz (Pluto Press, 2007)

Kurds: Through the photographer’s lens

By Mark Muller, Kerim Yildiz, and 6 more including Susan Meiseles (Trolley Books, 2008)

The Kurds and Iraq

By Gareth Stansfield (Rouledge, 2014)

No Friends but the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds

By John Bullock and Harvey Morris   (Oxford University Press, 1993)

The A to Z of the Kurds

By Michael M. Gunter (Scarecrow Press, 2009)

The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion, 1880-1925

By Robert Olson and William F. Tucker   (University of Texas Press, 1989)

The Kurdish Question and Turkish-Iranian Relations: From World War I to 1998

By Robert W. Olson   (Mazda Publishers, 1998)

Blood, Belief and Ballots: The Management of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey, 2007-2009

By Robert Olson (Mazda Publishers, 2009)

The Kurdish Nationalist Movements in Turkey: 1980-2011

By Robert Olson (Mazda Publishers, 2011)

The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in the 1990s: It’s Impact on Turkey and the Middle East

By Robert Olson   (Mazda Publishers, 2011)

Iraq’s Crime of Genocide: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds

By Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch, 1994)

Ghosts of Halabja: Saddam Hussein and the Kurdish Genocide

By Michael J. Kelly   (Praeger, 2008)

Kurds and Kurdistan

By Arshak Safrastian (The Harvill Press Ltd., 1948)

The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in Turkey 1980 to 2011

By Robert Olson (Mazda Publishers, 2011)

Primitive Rebels Or Revolutionary Modernisers?: The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in Turkey

By Paul J. White (Zed Books, 2001)

Understanding Turkey’s Kurdish Question

Edited by Fevzi Bilgin and Ali Sarihan with contributors including Hugh Pope, Michael M. Gunter, Cengiz Cander and others (Lexington Books, 2013)

On Current Affairs:  The Kurdish Question, Problems of Development, The National Front, Facing Imperialism and Counter-Resolution

By Saddam Hussein (Ath-Thawra Publications, 1974)

Speeches by Saddam Hussein delivered between September 1973 and April 1974.

Iraq Since the Gulf War: Prospects for Democracy

Edited by Fran Hazelton   (Zed Books, 1994) with contributions by Ahmad Chalabi, Ali Allawi, Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, Falaq al-Din Kakai Laith Kubba, Kanan Makiya, Ann Clwyd, and others.  Falaq al-Din Kakai’s chapter,

“The Kurdish Parliament”, talks of the establishment of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament (IKP) in 1992 and the adoption of federalism within the framework of Iraq.

Fire, Snow and Honey: Kurdistan

By Gina Lennox   (Halstead Press, 2001)

Life for Us

By Choman Hardi (Bloodaxe Books, 2004)

Gendered Experiences of Genocide:  Anfal Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq

By Choman Hardi   (Ashgate, 2011)

Shanidar: The First Flower People

By Ralph S. Solecki (Alfred A. Knopf, 1971)

“A personal narrative of one of the most important and exciting archaeological discoveries of recent years.”

The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq:  A Study of Iraq’s Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its Communists, Ba’thists and Free Officers

By Hanna Batatu (Princeton University Press, 1978)

Nineveh And Its Remains  Vol. II

By Austen Henry Layard   (Kessinger Publishing, 2007)

Gilgamesh: A New Reading in English Verse

By David Perry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1992)

Desert Queen

By Janet Wallach (Anchor Books, 1999)

“The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell:  Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia”