Pride and Power

A Modern History of Iraq

January 2021 9781787383951 660pp


The story of Iraq is one of resistance. In this groundbreaking study, Johan Franzén offers a contextual modern history of the country, its creation and its struggle for sovereignty.

Iraq’s contemporary history is a tale of a diverse people thrown together into a nation-state by imperialist statecraft. From the state’s inception as a League of Nations mandate in the 1920s, through wars, coups and revolutions, Iraqis have always resisted foreign domination. But the country, propelled by the quest for power, intense national pride and a zeal for sovereignty, was catapulted along a trajectory of violence. On one side stood imperialism, seeking to control Iraq for its own ends. Facing it, Iraqis of varying nationalist groups tried to rid the country of foreign meddling and steer a course of self-determination.

Pride and Power offers in-depth analysis of the most important events, decisions and processes that led Iraq down this path. Based on extensive research of primary sources, both Iraqi and Western, the book unravels the complexity of Iraq’s political history. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the international relations of the Middle East or in understanding the rich history of Iraq, from its foundation to the present.


‘[A] product of a prodigious amount of research.’ — Asian Affairs

‘Franzén narrates the troubled political history of modern Iraq, with close and detailed analyses of the play of forces and the role of regional and international powers in the rise and fall of the modern Iraqi state.’ — Sami Zubaida, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck, University of London, and author of Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East

‘In Pride and Power, Johan Franzén shows the impact of constant foreign intervention on the Iraqi state and reveals the cyclical nature of Iraq’s political history. Many lessons from this history can and should be applied to the country today.’ — Renad Mansour, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, and Project Director of the Iraq Initiative, Chatham House

‘In this impressive account of Iraq’s political history, Franzén draws on an abundance of primary sources to shed new light on the country and to give voice to generations of Iraqis. This meticulous analysis is a must-read to understand Iraq today.’ — Zeynep Kaya, Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS, University of London


Johan Franzén is Senior Lecturer in Middle East History at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of Red Star Over Iraq: Iraqi Communism Before Saddam, also published by Hurst, and has written extensively on Iraqi affairs for many years.

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