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The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 1

The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 1 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review August 2017 Title The Iran-Iraq War, Volume 1
Author E.R. Hooton, Tom Cooper, Farzin Nadimi Publisher Helion
Published 2017 ISBN 9781911096566
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $35.00

Review

Helion commences its multi-part study of The Iran-Iraq War with "The Battle For Khuzestan, September 1980-May 1982" – available in North America from Casemate.

Contents broadly follow the publisher's "@ War" histories format. Coverage initially recaps political and military backdrops to the war – chiefly border disputes.

Strategically situated in southwest Iran, Khuzestan – site, incidentally, of a longstanding Arab separatist movement – proved a natural territorial objective for Iraq. The province lines the northeast edge of the vital Shatt al-Arab waterway between both states – and remains critical to Iranian oil production.

Contents then swiftly segue to combat operations.

With "98,000 men, 1,500 tanks and 520 artillery pieces", Iraq invaded 22 September 1980 – more of a "land grab", authors contend, "rather than a properly run military invasion".

Saddam Hussein sought a quick, easy victory over Iran. Authors call it "smash-and-grab".

But Iran – despite upheavals of the Islamic revolution, and initially "sporadic" and "uncoordinated" responses – quickly checked Iraq's advance.

Airpower proved key. A "few scattered task forces of the IRIA and three wings of the IRIAF were so effectively fighting the Iraqis in Khuzestan Province that the invasion was de facto brought to a standstill" in October. And by November, Iranian air strikes had "effectively destroyed the Iraqi oil industry and fuel stocks".

With no strategy, both belligerents swiftly settled into patently limited territorial swaps. Authors call it "a demoralizing war of attrition". And coverage culminates in the "'greatest feat of Iranian arms since the eighteenth century'": Operation Beit-ol-Moqaddas, the recapture of Khorramshahr.

Color and B&W photos illustrate Helion's account. Abbreviations, extended captions, maps, selected bibliography and chapter endnotes further season the study. And color profiles nicely sample participating warplane and armor livery.

Nitpicks?

Not all abbreviations appear on the authors' page 2 list. That's Richard M. – not B. – Nixon. An Arabic "B" ("baa") – not any form of "jiim" ("J") – appears on page 33 and 35 profiles. That's not a captured Chieftain on page 39. And captions often appear to confuse Iraqi Type 59 and Type 69 tanks for T-55s.

Concerns?

Everywhere, it seems, statistics border on bizarre.

Do "summer temperatures in Khuzestan", for instance, actually "reach 4550˚C [8,222˚F]"? Did Iraq really penetrate "an average depth of 2040km [1,268mi]" into Iran? Do "medium weight" transport helicopters truly muster "512 tonnes take off weight"? Did Iraq literally lose "60100 MBTs" in the "biggest single tank action of the Iran-Iraq War"?

I quickly deduced that hyphens mysteriously disappeared from dates, ranges, and sequences. Did anyone proofread text before printing?

Still, the book conveniently chronicles the war's initial phases. So I swallowed hard – and overlooked the identification errors and senseless statistics.

I always expect the best from Helion's usually excellent "@ War" titles. And I sincerely hope subsequent Iran-Iraq War volumes correct the carelessness afflicting this otherwise useful account.

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!