Thus said Hashem: See, I am rousing a destructive wind Against Babylon and the inhabitants of Leb-kamai Jeremiah 51:1 (The Israel Bible™)
Although ISIS has faded away from the headlines, most people don’t realize that the terror organization has completely changed the entire landscape of the Middle East.
But if the story ISIS ever makes it into the future’s history textbooks, Seth Franzman’s ‘After ISIS: America, Iran and the struggle for the Middle East’ will definitely be used as a leading resource.
And although Franzman’s book is laden with historical facts, it’s far from anything resembling a history book. That’s because After ISIS is a personal account of an American/Israeli journalist who ventures throughout the Levant (and beyond) on a critical fact-finding mission.
This eye-opening novel gives the reader an insider’s glimpse into what it was like to be embedded in Iraq during a war involving arguably the cruelest killing machine to ever set foot on earth.
Some of Frantzman’s ‘adventures’ include reporting just outside the city of Nawaran in Iraq. That’s where the Kurdish Peshmerga warriors awkwardly battle alongside the Iraqi military to successfully defeat a common enemy – ISIS. Frantzman spares no detail despite the fact that explosions from the battle could be felt from his location.
And while this author imagined Iraq being a bunch of sand dunes with one-story buildings, Frantzman takes his readers to a hipster city in the Kurdish region called Erbil fully equipped with a Quiznos and modern coffee shops. It was there a jovial hotel guest greeted him daily only to later find out that his sons were both working for ISIL which could have easily ended in his kidnapping.
In a more sobering chapter, the author takes us to the Yazidi killing fields where he discovered several mass graves filled with women and children. The similarities to the Holocaust were chilling as Frantzman laments the inaction of Western powers while innocent Yazidis were either butchered or pawned off by ISIS as sex slaves.
One thing that was particularly eye-opening for this author is the realization that after all their collective suffering, one would think that the Kurds are united in their shared destiny. But After ISIS did a great job of highlighting how that’s not the case at all. That’s because Frantzman interviewed one sect of Kurds in Northern Iraq who dream of (and are willing to die for) a strong, independent Kurdistan while others see themselves as an integral minority in the Iraqi nation despite what was done to them in the Anfal massacre.
But the book goes far beyond the Levant. The Jerusalem based author describes his experience on the Turkish border with Syria where a wall is now being built in an effort to maintain the crisis while preventing it from spilling over from Damascus. Frantzman also discusses accompanying Syrians migrating to Europe who he realized were not necessarily terrorists but rather genuine asylum seekers fleeing imminent death.
The Middle East correspondent does a great job highlighting just how far-reaching ISIS’s social media campaign is as he travels to Cameroon, a seemingly irrelevant Western African country now on edge following the loss of some of their best and brightest men to the terror group’s online recruiting campaign.
All in all, After ISIS is the perfect blend of an adventure novel supported with an accurate historical context giving the reader the best of both worlds. So if you’re a history buff who also likes a good suspense-filled war novel, After ISIS is the perfect book for you.
Pro tip: Frantzman ventures out to a lot of cities in Iraq you probably never heard of. So when you read the book, have a map of Iraq handy. It’ll help put things into perspective.