The reader of Kurdish Identity, published in 2007, will find himself reading such timely insights as former State Department Iraq coordinator Francis Ricciardone explaining that, "Of course, we have no relations at all with [Baghdad]," and former deputy assistant secretary of state David Mack writing that he understands both Kurdish aspirations and "the potential danger that a ruthless regime in Baghdad poses," as though Saddam Hussein's regime had not ceased to exist in 2003.
The collection of articles published by MacDonald and O'Leary, Kurdish experts at, respectively, Florida International University and American University, might have been useful to practitioners in April 2000, the date of the conference for which they were written, but the articles are now out-of-date.
Some chapters are useful to historians. Robert W. Olson's essay on Turkish-Iranian relations between 1997 and 2001 capably reviews that period. Kurdistan Regional Government financial advisor Stafford Clarry's analysis of the U.N.'s humanitarian program retains value because of his precision and attention to detail, all the more so in the wake of the Oil-for-Food program scandal, which he helped expose. Michael Gunter's apt analysis of how the capture of Kurdish terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan catalyzed Turkey's EU accession drive stands the test of time.
The editors conclude with an essay updating the reader on world events. Both are academics well worth reading, but they provide no insights in this collection not already published elsewhere. Their comments in passing on the dire situation of Syrian Kurds, who do not enjoy equal protection under the law, raises the question why Kurdish Identity does not address this subject.
Had MacDonald and O'Leary reassembled their April 2000 conference participants to reconsider their contributions seven years later and analyze where they were right and wrong, Kurdish Identity would have advanced scholarship in a novel way. As it stands, however, their book offers too little and much too late, suggesting that academics live in a world of publish or perish with the content of those publications sometimes a secondary consideration.