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My Memoirs: Half a Century of the History of Iraq and the Arab Cause

Tawfiq al-Suwaydi, translated by Nancy Roberts and with an Introduction by Antony T. Sullivan
My Memoirs: Half a Century of the History of Iraq and the Arab Cause
ISBN: 978-1-58826-903-4
2013/545 pages/LC: 2013004962
"A fascinating tour de force on earlier attempts of the British and Iraqis at nation building in Iraq and a useful guide to Iraqi political culture.... This book will be of particular use to scholars and students, who will now have access in English to a valuable primary source for the seminal events of this period. For the ordinary reader interested in gaining perspective on current upheavals, [it] will reward their effort with fascinating narrative and the portrayal of major historical figures."—Phebe Marr, Middle East Policy

"Must reading for anyone seeking to understand the development of Iraq in the last century as well as the complexities of inter-Arab relationships.... Al-Suwaydi has given us a glimpse into a past world and perhaps some direction for what might be created in the future."—Janice J. Terry, Arab Studies Quarterly

"A welcome foray into a crucial and formative period of Iraq’s modern history.... This book is highly recommended."—Ghada Hashem Talhami, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies

“All students of contemporary Iraqi and Arab politics will be thankful for this translation of Tawfiq al-Suwaidi's Mudhakarati, an expansive memoir by a towering political figure of the monarchical period in Iraq who played a critical role in defining the politics of the era in the entire Arab political theater."—Adeed Dawisha, Miami University

"A fascinating record of the last days of the Ottoman Empire, the birth of Arab nationalist consciousness, and the founding of the modern state system in the Middle East, written by one of Iraq's most distinguished statesmen…. These memoirs are an invaluable source on the evolution of Iraq as an independent state and the turbulent environment in which the modern Arab world came into being."—Ali Allawi, author of The Crisis of Islamic Civilization

"These Memoirs and the masterful introduction by Antony T. Sullivan that frames them do more than illuminate a fascinating moment in Iraq's rich modern history; they reveal how impoverished and naive the debate about—and policy push toward—-'democracy' in the Middle East has become, devoid as it often is of any awareness of the Arab world's own laboring liberal tradition."—Joshua Mitchell, Georgetown University

"Tawfiq al-Suwaydi's memoirs are an intriguing journey into the making and the political dynamics of modern Iraq.... This book is a must read for foreign affairs specialists and students of the Middle East."—Abbas J. Ali, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

"Anyone interested in the contemporary Middle East and how it came to be as it is today will be deeply indebted to Tawfiq al-Suwaydi for the light he sheds on precisely those issues in his remarkable memoirs. Equal gratitude must be extended to Nancy Roberts for her translation of the text and to Antony T. Sullivan for his lively, well-informed, and thoughtful introduction."—Charles E. Butterworth, University of Maryland (Emeritus)


These memoirs of the distinguished Iraqi statesman Tawfiq al-Suwaydi (1892-1968) evocatively recapture a now largely vanished Arab world—and are an eloquent reminder that Iraq was once a far more open and tolerant society than it is today.

Al-Suwaydi served as Iraq's prime minister three times (1929, 1946, 1950), as foreign minister on numerous occasions, and as ambassador to Iran, the League of Nations, and the United Nations. He frequently undertook sensitive diplomatic missions on behalf of the Iraqi monarchy. Among the major world figures with whom he interacted personally were Kemal Ataturk, Adnan Menderes, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, John Foster Dulles, Anthony Eden, George Curzon, Benito Mussolini, George Antonius, and Kings Abdullah, Faisal, Hussein, and Ibn Saud. From this vantage point, he wrote with an insider's detail about the diplomatic, political, and geostrategic issues that vexed Iraq and the entire Arab world from the early twentieth century through mid-1960s.

A comprehensive essay by Antony T. Sullivan, senior associate for Middle East affairs at TerraBuilt Corporation International, introduces this first English-language edition of the memoirs.