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The first draft of history: Dispatches from the frontline of war

Since 2001, Patrick Cockburn has provided peerless reporting of the wars that have torn apart the Middle East and created the conditions in which Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have grown and flourished. In the first of a series of excerpts from his new book, he combines eyewitness accounts of the battles for Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and beyond with an explanation of what these conflicts have in common – and how they were reported or misreported at the time