Shatter the Nations is one of those frontline accounts that doesn’t so much offer strategic or historical understanding about a conflict, as it does decorate an existing investigation with one person’s experience.
It’s a series of stories centred around the author’s work reporting on the frontlines with the Iraqi Special Forces (ISF) during their fight against the ISIS entrenchment in Mosul, and various stories orbiting those core experiences.
I valued this book for its glimpse into an experience very different from my own and engaged quite honestly with the subjectivity of that experience. War reporting — really any account of conflict — is a fraught endeavour. It’s physically dangerous, with those reporting either self-selecting to participate or being from the region experiencing conflict. The reporter might have any number of preconceptions and biases about the conflict, and frankly of themselves.
This book somehow felt like it was an account of that subjectivity of experience (and exhaustion) told through the moment in and near to Mosul, as the ISF fought back against the blight of ISIS. It’s not a history, it won’t offer you deep insight. But if you’re interested in this conflict and how knowledge is generated about it for global consumption (plus some interesting storytelling), this is a worthwhile book to read.