0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but tedious read,
This review is from: A World of Trouble: America in the Middle East (Hardcover)
This book has been written by a journalist and will therefore disappoint those who would prefer to read a sound academic study of American, Middle East foreign policy initiatives, taken from the Suez crises of 1956 to the present time. The work is overburdened with anecdotal content, much of which is almost certainly apocryphal and rather tedious to read. The book contains 628 pages including notes and index. Reading a book of this length, that has not been effectively edited and pruned of superfluous material is an exhausting experience, but the book certainly serves to illustrate the lamentable lack of understanding that has informed and shaped American strategy in the Middle East - "the cracked and murky lens through which US presidents invariably look out at that part of the world." The book draws our attention to an almost complete absence of understanding, on the part those engaged in foreign policy formation, in respect of those customs and practices that shape and form Arab societies; mores which have been most eloquently expressed by David Price-Jones in The Closed Circle, An Interpretation of the Arabs.
Exploration of associated literature, which is voluminous, indicates that those engaged in foreign policy analysis at the subordinate level - at the level of expert analysis and interpretation - certainly possess a clear and distinct understanding of the Middle East and the disparate range of problems that bedevil American relations with the Arab world. There is no dearth of expert advice and guidance of a high intellectual standard, expressed in clear and distinct language. Presumably, those who actually formulate policy, in the upper echelons of the US administration, do not allocate sufficient effort to informing themselves, and thus seem to create policy initiatives in an intellectual vacuum.
My recommendation is that the interested reader should endeavour to `skim' the text, thus ignoring, as far as that is possible, those anecdotal and apocryphal passages, which may be amusing, but which do not really add to a comprehensive understanding of those egregious errors that have influenced American, Middle East foreign policy during the past 50 years.