Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East Paperback – 1 Jul 1992
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"This is a book in the finest tradition of investigative scholarship. The research is awesome. . . . Seale's great strength is his ability to explain the confusing kaleidoscopic nature of Middle Eastern diplomacy. He understands the game being played and also knows the players. . . . [An] impressive book."--"Los Angeles Times Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
The style of the book is scholarly, more like a university text book than a light breezy style so popular these days. The writing is so detailed that even those with little background knowledge should have little trouble understanding the subject matter. The book is published by University Chicago Press and has very good quality paper and nice font. Although only paperback it is still quite heavy. There are a few black and white photos in the middle and a map of Syria at the front.
The book begins by describing the environment Asad was raised in, his grandfather was a respected village leader (p4) among the mountain bosses, the Zu'ama (P4). Back then Syrian society was defined by the tribal rules, guns were everywhere and quarrels were common. Power struggles within and between communities were constantly happening. The Ottomans, were are told, largely neglected the mountain people and left them to their own devices, thus they became a backward isolated but free people, Turkish rule in Syria often ended at the outer limits of the cities. Hafiz Al-Asad was born the 9th of 11 children, his mother Na'isa, her husbands 2nd wife was 20 years younger than her husband.Read more ›
Basically, it tells the struggle of Hafez Asad and Syria to confron Israel and to stand up for Arab rights. Unfortunately, this has led Syria into fifty years of conflict with Israel.
This book goes through everything, the early years of conflict in the 1950's, the disaster of 1967, the even bigger setback of 1973 and Egypt's peace with Israel, and the final redemption of the Lebanon war (the only time when Arabs were able to resist Israel and push them back over their border).
It also covers Syrian wrong-doings, such as the massacre in Hama (often quoted by the west and Israel), and how these situations were created and sponsored by foreign security services (no prizes for guessing who). Read it and find out... Be prepared to find out that Al-Quaeda are linked to the people that Asad fought in Hama (the Muslim brotherhood)? This book was written in 1992, but if you make the connection this book takes on an even more unsettling relevance.
A worthy book for the open reader, one who doesn't just swallow western platitudes about 'terror'.
It's undoubtedly uncomfortable reading for us in the West and forces us to question our perceptions. For instance, how do we define terrorism and who are the real terrorists in the Middle East ? Why was it deemed critical to knock Saddam Hussein down to size after the Iran - Iraq war? Why is Israel able to consistently flout / side step and break both international conventions and UN resolutions? All these issues and more are answered in this superb commentary book.
"Asad" does of course delve the personality of this modern statesman and offers insight into his shrewdness and the events that shape his policies. He is portrayed as an essentially peaceful man who wants peace but not a peace dictated by exclusively Israeli terms. In short, he is the one Arab leader who understands the need to negotiate from a position of equality with Israel. The Syrian leader does of course have a darker side to his personality, and the book does not shy away from exposing this. Yet we must temper this with the knowledge that other Middle Eastern personalities (including Rabin, Dayan, Begin, Ben-Gurion and Meir are hardly angels). This book is a "must read". Buy it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is on my list to read. But it looks good and Patrick knows his subjectPublished 8 months ago by John Bonar
brilliant fascinating study of the man who put syria in the forefront of middle east politicsPublished on 8 July 2014 by scminkstein
It's impossible to understand Syria without knowing its history, culture or geography. Patrick Seale provides comprehensive coverage of all three. Read morePublished on 10 May 2012 by Neutral
I say good but with some reservations. The edition that I had of the book was littered with spelling mistakes and I found that particularly annoying. Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2011 by Wassim
I remember reading this book back in the day almost 7 years ago, and it was one of the first books about the Middle East that I read. Read morePublished on 14 Mar. 2009 by Charles Wahab
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