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Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS Paperback – 2 June 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 490 ratings

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Product description


A deeply reported book of remarkable clarity showing how the flawed rationale for the Iraq War led to the explosive growth of the Islamic State. ― Pulitzer Prize committee

Compelling and authoritative, with the narrative drive of a thriller. ― Guardian

Joby Warrick moves easily through the intelligence warrens of Washington and the shattered landscape of the Middle East to tell this insightful narrative of the rise of the Islamic State. Black Flags is an invaluable guide to an unfolding tragedy that must be understood before it can be ended. ― Lawrence Wright, author of Thirteen Days in September and The Looming Tower

A deep, well-balanced and thought-provoking account with a genuine feel for Middle Eastern realities. ― Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens

Warrick uses very compelling first-hand testimony to reconstruct Zarqawi's short, violent life. ― Literary Review

This is journalism at its best: clear, readable and enlightening. ― The Irish Times

Joby Warrick is one of America's leading national security reporters, so it's no surprise that Black Flags is the most deeply reported and well-written account we have about ISIS and its terrorist army. ― Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

Invaluable for anyone struggling to understand the gruesome excesses and inexplicable appeal of ISIS. As this seminal book makes alarmingly clear, Zarqawi's appalling legacy won't fade any time soon. -- Bob Drogin ― Los Angeles Times

Gripping … Warrick has a gift for constructing narratives with a novelistic energy and detail, and in this volume he creates the most revealing portrait yet laid out in a book of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the founding father of the organization that would become the Islamic State… For readers interested in the roots of the Islamic State and the evil genius of its godfather, there is no better book to begin with than Black Flags. ― The New York Times

Gripping ... a zippy, atmospheric and character-led narrative. It offers a necessary and important backstory to the unfurling of black flags across Syria and Iraq today. -- Shiraz Maher ― New Statesman

A page-turner and a flat-out great book. This is the inside account of how we ended up with the Islamic State, with one revelation after another. If you read one book on ISIS, this is it. ― Robert Baer, author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism

Drawing on his unrivaled sources and access, Joby Warrick has written a profoundly important and groundbreaking book, one that reads like a novel, riveting from the first page to the last. If you want to know the story behind ISIS, and all of us should, this is the book you must read. ― Martha Raddatz, Chief Global Affairs Correspondent, ABC News, and author of The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family

Riveting and detailed... Warrick’s book might be the most thorough and nuanced account of the birth and growth of ISIS published so far. Black Flags is full of personalities, but it keeps its gaze carefully focused on the wider arc of history. -- Thanassis Cambanis ― Boston Globe

Joby Warrick is an exceptional storyteller, and Black Flags is both illuminating and spellbinding. No book better explains the miscalculations, wrong turns, and bad luck that led to the rise of ISIS. ― Rick Atkinson, author of The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945

Joby Warrick weaves Black Flags with the tradecraft of a spy, the mind of an investigative reporter, and the pen of a novelist. ― Dana Priest, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter and author of Top Secret America

Compulsively readable. What makes Warrick’s book unique is its focus on the group’s roots, especially the evolution of its founder. -- Jessica Stern ― Washington Post

Warrick charts Zarqawi’s rise from booze-swilling Jordanian street tough to one of the most brutal jihadists in the world.The New Yorker

[A] crisply written, chilling account … Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Warrick confidently weaves a cohesive narrative from an array of players―American officials, CIA officers, Jordanian royalty and security operatives, religious figures, and terrorists―producing an important geopolitical overview with the grisly punch of true-crime nonfiction … The author focuses on dramatic flashpoints and the roles of key players, creating an exciting tale with a rueful tone, emphasizing how the Iraq invasion's folly birthed ISIS and created many missed opportunities to stop al-Zarqawi quickly. ― Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

A revealing, riveting and exquisitely detailed account of the life and death of Zarqawi, the improbable terrorist mastermind, and the rise of the movement now known as the Islamic State. ― San Francisco Chronicle

A detailed, step-by-step narrative demonstrating how repeated miscalculations wound up empowering the Islamic State … Black Flags provides answers in this still-unfolding history. ― Dallas Morning News

About the Author

JOBY WARRICK has been a reporter for The Washington Post since 1996. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and the author of Black Flags and The Triple Agent.
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Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 055217288X
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780552172882
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0552172882
  • Customer reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 490 ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Gripping.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This was a really great book - found it hard to put down
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 February 2016
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Thomas Conroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and gripping read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 July 2018
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Nicola C
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and of the time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 November 2016
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