The writings of Hanna Batatu and Ali al-Wardi have profoundly shaped our understanding of the society and history of modern Iraq. Batatu’s and al-Wardi’s distinct methodologies have significant implications on our understanding of the history and politics of present day Iraq. Writing in the late 1970s at the height of Ba’thist power, Batatu’s history of the Iraqi Communist Party and its liquidation by the Ba’thists, exhibited a faith in the ability of popular mobilization to forge a change in society. Ali al-Wardi had no such faith. He saw the politics of the 1920 rebellion, claimed by nationalist historiography as the birth of modern Iraqi nationhood, as mired in allegiances to sect and tribe. Al-Wardi’s ethnographic approach led him to assert that the cultural personality of Iraqis precluded the assimilation of non-communal forms of sociability.