More than a quarter of a century has passed since, a young official of the 'Iraq Government, I published an account of the four centuries of that country's history ending in 1900. That tentative and imperfect work has not, to my knowledge, been superseded; and as it seems now to call for a continuation into more recent times I have tried in the volume now offered to carry out this task. My own connexion with the territory, which has been continuous since 1915, has included some sixteen years of residence there followed by annual or more than annual visits, and has been favoured by the friendship of many scores of 'Iraqis at all levels, including perhaps two-thirds of those mentioned in these pages.
The interest which 'Iraq offered formerly to the world -- that of history, archaeology, strategy, economics, and social structure -- has grown not less but greater during the last generation. Apart from the personal and affectionate interest felt by many friends of the 'Iraqis, the circumstances of the foundation of their nation, its era of tutelage and emancipation, its varying fortunes as an independent State, its social and cultural development as illustrating the familiar but uneasy impact of West on East, its revelation of national character, its share in Arab politics and in world groupings, its material development, its possible future: all these should contribute to a story well worth the telling, if it can be rightly told. At the same time I, and probably some readers, must regret the absence from these pages of many or most of the figures -- tribal or village chiefs, town 'notables' and professional men, the humble as well as the eminent in officialdom and the general public -- so long and so well known to residents in 'Iraq in this or that part of a wide, varied, and deeply interesting country. It is indeed regrettable that so little of this element of social life, enriched by many picturesque, responsive, and often eminent personalities of the country, will appear in this history; indeed much of the best that 'Iraq has to offer in courtesy, humour, and kindliness must be here unrecorded.
The need for a general account of the last half-century in 'Iraq has not hitherto been met. There are diplomatic papers, military histories and dispatches, travellers' tales, 'Iraqi political writings and a voluminous press, biographies of the eminent, and a few scholars' and specialists' monographs: but there seems to be no single work attempting to be both as comprehensive and as reliable as the variety and the too close proximity of the events will permit. I have hoped to be of use in helping both the contemporary reader . . .