Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.

One of the major stories of the summer, the takeover of huge portions of Syria and Iraq by a highly organized militant strain of political Islam, came as a surprise to many in the West. But not to Patrick Cockburn. A journalist whose coverage of the Middle East goes back three-and-a-half decades, the Ireland-born Cockburn, whose family Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer described as responsible for some of the most important reporting of the last 50 years (he is the brother of fellow journalists Andrew Cockburn and the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, and the son of Claud Cockburn), was lauded by colleague Seymour Hersh as “quite simply, the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today.” A look at the reporter’s new book about the region’s latest, most ferocious and conspicuously ambitious pretenders to power will give readers an idea why.

“The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising,” published by OR Books, began to take form earlier this year during Cockburn’s work on a series of lectures and articles. Describing his thesis in the book’s acknowledgements, the author explains that what “seemed a marginal opinion in 2013 and early 2014”—that the stability of post-intervention Iraq was endangered by jihadis overtaking moderates in the struggle in neighboring Syria—was borne out “spectacularly” by the militant group ISIS’ capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul in mid-June. With a quarter of that country and a third of Syria now under its control, ISIS declared sovereignty over a territory larger than Britain and home to a population (6 million) that exceeds some European countries.

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