"They Will Have to Die Now is the story of what happened after most Americans stopped paying attention to Iraq…It will take its place among the very best war writing of the past two decades." —George Packer, author of Our Man and The Assassins’ Gate
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.
About the Author
James Verini is a Contributing Writer at the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic. He has also written for The New Yorker, The Atavist, and other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award and a George Polk Award.
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 Man and The Assassins’ Gate
Verini’s firsthand account of the Battle of Mosul is a thing of terrible beauty. — Jonathan Franzen
They Will Have to Die Now is a vivid, captivating, compelling, and graphic account of the major battle against the Islamic State in Iraq, the Battle for Mosul…James Verini conveys brilliantly the often tragic ancient and modern history of Iraq, and he captures superbly the brutal reality of one of the most intense urban battles since WWII. In so doing, he describes the terrible hardships experienced by the Moslawis and both the worst and the best of mankind in war.
— Gen. David Petraeus (US Army, Ret.) former commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former director of the CIA
James Verini’s book stands comparison with the pathbreaking works of modern war journalism that meld into great literature. One has to go back to the Vietnam War and Michel Herr’s Dispatches to find such a vivid, poignant, and historically grounded narrative of an appalling war; a war caused no little by the misdeeds, missteps, and malevolence of the myriad powers and forces that have tried to dominate the Middle East.
— Ali Allawi, former minister of finance, defense, and trade of Iraq
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
This is a stunning book, brave in its reporting and beautiful in its writing. It is funny and sad and seared into me, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, not just to people interested in the truth of a war but to anyone in search of the truth of humanity. — David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter at the Washington Post and author of The Good Soldiers
This is such an important and deeply nuanced book. Verini paints absolutely convincing portraits of the Iraqi soldiers trying to take their broken country back, and in humanizing them, he joins the ranks of Liebling and Pyle and Gellhorn—American journalists able to embed so selflessly with soldiers, to listen first and theorize rarely, to tell a story as it happened. He does us and the Iraqis trying to rebuild, after decades of catastrophic war, a service. — Dave Eggers, best-selling author of Zeitoun, A Hologram for the King, and The Circle
Tough, smart, and vivid, this is a book that renders war and battle with the deft hand of a fine writer. It will haunt you, engage you, and stay with you. — Susan Orlean, New York Times best-selling author of The Orchid Thief
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 best-selling author of Say Nothing
The definitive account of one of the most pivotal and bitter military campaigns of the modern era…This isn’t typical military history, though, but an eyewitness account of what happens to ordinary people who find themselves living on the battlefield, the compromises they must make to stay alive…This is war reporting at its very best. — Scott Anderson, author of Lawrence in Arabia
James Verini plunges you into the heart of the climactic battle of the Iraq War and won’t let you leave. He seems to be everywhere, gets to know everyone, vividly chronicles everything he sees and hears—and never once calls attention to himself. The weapons may be new—drones and iPads and executions on YouTube—but the blood and confusion and betrayal are as old as war itself. They Will Have To Die Now is an astonishment.
— Geoffrey C. Ward, coauthor of Ken Burns’s The Civil War, The War, and The Vietnam War
A deadly accurate, richly illuminating, profoundly saddening work. — Gen. Merrill McPeak, US Air Force Chief of Staff, Ret.