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Customer Review

on 5 March 2006
Robert Fisk’s massive, thoughtful and humanistic portrayal of the killing fields of the middle east, brought on by the thoughtless and arrogant interventions over the past century of Britain, France and America in such areas we now know as Syria, Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Iran. Its 1300 pages are a modern “War and Peace” – and can be put down only long enough to rest one’s arms from the weight of the book! I’ve tried before to understand the history and events of this area – but the previous books have clinically recited events and dates and referred in a few cliches only to the horror of those events. The only individuals who figure in these other books are the leaders – but this book portrays both the victims of the slaughter and their families and also those in the Western bureaucracies – both private and public – who make the slaughter possible. Their words are closely analysed – and their actions held to account in a relentless way which restores one faith in journalism. The book’s theme of our lack of historical perspective is echoed in a much shorter book first published in 2003 by Karl Meyer - but Fisk’s book is interlaced with powerful references to his father and others who fought in these same places at the beginning of the 20th Century. This is the book which should be required reading for students of government and for those aspiring to leadership – and the subject of discussion at all book clubs. It is writing and humanity at its highest level. Government is about individuals making, or colluding with, decisions - and how rarely do we get this level of research and critical scrutiny of the words individuals use to protect themselves from questions which might challenge the lives they lead.
I too have read his previous book on Lebanon - and disagree with another reviewer's comparison. This is the more significant book - which needs this detail to balance the countless times the victims are simply written out of history. But yes, perhaps, the chapter on Armenia is overdone - and fails to mention the slaughter by Armenians of Azeris in the 1990s and the displacement by them of 1 million Azeris to tent cities.
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