Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning journalist and author JAMES VERINI—Contributing Writer for National Geographic—for a discussion of his new book, They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate. He will be joined in conversation by award-winning journalist and academic DUNCAN WHITE.
James Verini arrived in Iraq in the summer of 2016 to write about life in the Islamic State. He stayed to cover the jihadis’ last great stand, the Battle of Mosul, not knowing it would go on for nearly a year, nor that it would become, in the words of the Pentagon, “the most significant urban combat since WWII.”
They Will Have to Die Now takes the reader into the heart of the conflict against the most lethal insurgency of our time. We see unspeakable violence, improbable humanity, and occasional humor. We meet an Iraqi major fighting his way through the city with a bad leg; a general who taunts snipers; an American sergeant who removes his glass eye to unnerve his troops; a pair of Moslawi brothers who welcomed the Islamic State, believing, as so many Moslawis did, that it might improve their shattered lives. Verini also relates the rich history of Iraq, and of Mosul, one of the most beguiling cities in the Middle East.
“They Will Have to Die Now is the story of what happened after most Americans stopped paying attention to Iraq. It’s a small miracle that a writer as good as James Verini witnessed the battle of Mosul. His book is erudite, humane, bleakly funny, and unbearably sad. It will take its place among the very best war writing of the past two decades.” —George Packer, author of Our Manand The Assassins’ Gate
“With the eye of a novelist and a historian’s sweep, James Verini tells a moving, gripping, complexly layered story of Mosul, from the private calamities of its present to the buried dynasties of its past.” —Larissa MacFarquhar, author of Strangers Drowning
“An urgent, scalding, hallucinatory work of war reportage, in the tradition of Michael Herr and Philip Gourevitch. His account. . . captures the horror, the nobility, and the sheer grinding absurdity of twenty-first-century warfare. . . A significant achievement.” —Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times bestselling author of Say Nothing
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.