Shadow on the mountain A Yazidi memoir of terror, resistance, and hope

Shaker Jeffrey

Book - 2020

Recounts the story of Shaker Jeffrey, a young Yazidi interpreter for the US military in Iraq, and what happened after ISIS sentenced the Yazidi people to extermination. The Yazidis fled to Mount Shingal, where they had no food and no water. Shaker went behind enemy lines, relaying their precise locations to CENTCOM in Washington and even infiltrating their ranks to rescue the taken; but he would come to risk everything in the search for his beloved. Soon, he established a cross-border, underground rescue network that would save the lives of thousands of civilians, all while feeding intelligence to the US military--and landing him at the top of ISIS's execution list.

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New York, NY : Da Capo Press 2020.
Main Author
Shaker Jeffrey (author)
Other Authors
Katharine Holstein (author)
First edition
Item Description
Includes index.
Physical Description
viii, 308 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • Prologue: The Invasion
  • 1. The Spring Baghdad Fell
  • 2. After the Torchlight
  • 3. The Crudest Month
  • 4. Sergeant White
  • 5. Mosul
  • 6. A Farewell to Angels
  • 7. Riding the Surge
  • 8. The Fortress
  • 9. General Petraeus
  • 10. Left Behind
  • 11. Dil-Mir
  • 12. The Islamic State Comes Home
  • 13. Blind Mice
  • 14. The Invasion
  • 15. Shadow on the Mountain
  • 16. Taken
  • 17. The Situation Rock
  • 18. Exodus
  • 19. The Smuggler's Route
  • 20. Nadia and the Warehouse of Souls
  • 21. Infiltrating ISIS
  • 22. The Slave Market
  • 23. Saved by Mosquitos
  • 24. Hunted
  • 25. Through the Perilous Fight
  • 26. All the Faithful
  • Epilogue: Überleben
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

The Yazidi, an ancient religious community living near Mount Shingal in Iraq, consider themselves to be the children of Adam; pacifists by nature, they kept mostly to themselves. When ISIS conquered Mosul and the surrounding areas in 2014, the Yazidi fell victim to the most depraved and brutal pogrom in their history. The Islamic State slaughtered thousands and enslaved countless more as sex slaves, while survivors fled to their sacred mountain and were trapped there with no food or water. Jeffrey, a decorated Yazidi combat interpreter with the U.S. Army in Iraq, was one of those who lived. His story, powerfully told with coauthor Holstein, is an incredible saga of selfless and courageous service to his people and his adopted American brothers as he provided invaluable intelligence and coordination often personally leading missions behind enemy lines to help rescue Yazidis from the mountain and the clutches of ISIS. The details that Jeffrey shares about this genocide will bring the toughest reader to tears, and he also illuminates the little-known history and culture of his people. An invaluable look into a still-unfolding tragedy.--James Pekoll Copyright 2020 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Jeffrey opens his story with a portrait of his childhood in a poor, rural village in northern Iraq, near the Sinjar Mountains. His school years were disrupted when the U.S. Army invaded Iraq; they recruited him as a Yazidi interpreter. Often in combat and wounded several times, Jeffrey learned military skills and built warm relationships with his American team, who he called on after Yazidis were targeted during the Sinjar massacre in 2014. After fleeing to the harsh terrain of Mount Shingal, Jeffrey reestablished contact with American forces and assisted their efforts against ISIS expansion. Later, he aided Yazidis escaping to Europe and helped them resettle in Germany. He explains how his translation skills have made him a resource for journalists and aid agencies telling the story of the Yazidi genocide, and rallying support for the shattered community. He also makes a moving connection between the personal tragedies of his fiancé and family and the horrors of genocide. VERDICT Jeffrey contrasts the warmth of his childhood with the brutality of war and of the genocide that shattered the Yazidi community. Though his prose is complex at times, his story of tragedy and resistance is an important one.--Elizabeth Hayford, formerly with Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL

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