The unflinching dispatches of an embedded war reporter covering the Iraqi special forces, Kurdish peshmerga, and shadowy Americans that faced down the most violent antagonist that has yet emerged in the Middle East: ISIS.
The battle against ISIS, or the Caliphate, is a ongoing battle to save the world’s soul. The Caliphate represents a savage step backwards into an era of educational and social repression, brutal punishment, and the absolute rule of an uncompromising faith. It is a doomsday cult. Growing in the vacuum of the collapsed Iraq and Syria, it threatened to dominate the Middle East.
No other reporter has been closer to the battle against ISIS or had better direct contacts with the ISIS fighters themselves. Mike Giglio spent six years reporting the cult’s rise until its bloody defeat in Mosul.. He traveled with smugglers and war profiteers along the Turkish border, accompanied antiquities traders to visit stolen artifacts, drank whiskey with human traffickers as refugees trudged in and out of their Istanbul offices with life jackets, and met ISIS defectors fresh off the battlefield. And he got to know those who would ultimately bring the Caliphate to its Götterdämmerung in Mosul, a wild array of soldiers who united for the offensive, coming together from many different local forces and more than a dozen countries under the watchful eyes of the US special forces.
The story follows the fighters who melted back across porous borders, their adventure over but their commitment to the cause unbroken. It’s a chilling portrait of the seductive power of a call to arms for a supposedly higher purpose, in the face of which reason and tenacity and astonishing courage are required to defeat it.