Shadow on the Mountain is a gripping memoir of hopeful resilience in the face of unimaginable horror and heartbreak. For many centuries, the Yazidi people have practiced a pacifist monotheistic faith distinct from the Abrahamic religions. They have been persecuted many times over their history, primarily by Muslims who mistakenly brand them as devil worshipers. Indigenous to Iraq, Syria and Turkey, most reside in northern Iraq, around Mount Sinjar. In August 2014, ISIS launched genocidal attacks on this Yazidi population, killing or enslaving tens of thousands. The survivors fled to Sinjar, though without food, water or military aid, that sanctuary would not last long.
Shaker Jeffrey was among the Yazidis trapped on his people's sacred mountain. It was not, however, his first time in a war zone. During the American occupation of Iraq, he was an interpreter between U.S. soldiers, Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi army; he was shot multiple times and narrowly survived IEDs. He also developed lifelong friendships with his American commanding officers, who were vital advocates for armed intervention against the unfolding Yazidi genocide in 2014. Night after night, Jeffrey crept down Sinjar and relayed coordinates of ISIS fighters and prisoners to the other side of the globe. His information saved hundreds of women and children from slavery and guided American airstrikes in the days ahead.
Every part of Jeffrey's life is fascinating, from his village upbringing, his time with the American military and especially his bravery against ISIS. He displays a depth of strength and character, rendered beautifully with the help of Katharine Holstein, that is utterly inspiring. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer