Exacerbated by the Gulf War, the plight of the Kurds is one of the most urgent problems facing the international community. This authoritative study of the Kurdish people provides a deep and varied insight into one of the largest primarily tribal communities in the world. It covers the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the great Kurdish revolt against republican Turkey, the birth of Kurdish nationalism and the situation of the Kurdish people in Iraq, Turkey and Iran today.
Van Bruinessen's work is already recognized as a key contribution to this subject. Tribe by tribe, he accounts for the evolution of power within Kurdish religious and other lineages, and shows how relations with the state have played a key constitutive role in the development of tribal structures. This is illustrated from contemporary Kurdish life, highlighting the complex interplay between traditional clan loyalties and their modern national equivalents.
This book is essential to any Middle East collection. It has serious implications for the study of tribal life elsewhere, and it documents the history of what has until recently been a forgotten people.