Justin Marozzi’s Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood: A History in Thirteen Centuries is a well-researched and well-documented history of that troubled city. Written in a style that is engaging and accessible, Marozzi peppers his sentences with occasional humor and irony. He traces the decline of a city once known as the center of the world and the cradle of civilization.
Beginning with the caliph Mansur who established it as his capital in 762 C.E. and concluding in 2007 with the fall of Saddam and the aftermath of the invasion, Marozzi shows us how Baghdad lives up to the title of his book: it rotates from being a City of Peace where scholarship, culture, and the arts flourished to a City of Blood, violence, and the massive slaughter of innocents at the hands of one conquering army after another.
Marozzi does not shy away from describing some of the horrors inflicted on various segments of Baghdad’s population throughout the centuries. In chilling detail, he also narrates some of the gruesome tortures perpetrated on Iraqis by Saddam Hussein, his sons, and his henchmen.
Marozzi concludes his history on a hopeful note as expressed by a retired diplomat: “The cycle that sees Baghdad lurching between mayhem and prosperity has been long and gory, but of course we must have hope. May the City of Peace live up to its name before we ourselves depart to eternal peace.”
To paraphrase Hamlet, "'Tis a circumstance devoutly to be wished."