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The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite

Overview

Here is the untold story of an inbred, gifted, and powerful elite of families and friends who dominated America's relations with the Middle East for over a century. Known to Foreign Service colleagues as "the Arabists," these were the men and women who had spent much of their lives, usually with their families, living in the Arab world as diplomats, military attaches, intelligence agents, and educators. Descended from the missionaries, scholars, and explorers who first ventured into the region - an offshoot of ...
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Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite

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Overview

Here is the untold story of an inbred, gifted, and powerful elite of families and friends who dominated America's relations with the Middle East for over a century. Known to Foreign Service colleagues as "the Arabists," these were the men and women who had spent much of their lives, usually with their families, living in the Arab world as diplomats, military attaches, intelligence agents, and educators. Descended from the missionaries, scholars, and explorers who first ventured into the region - an offshoot of the WASP elite that ruled America during the nineteenth century - the Arabists were an exclusive caste linked by complex social, institutional, and family ties. Thoroughly at home in Arab cultures and often enjoying relations of longstanding intimacy with the monarchs and ruling elites of Arab countries, these American expatriates lived a charmed lifestyle that has become a source of intense nostalgia among the Arabists themselves as well as a symbol of their romance with Arab culture and increasing isolation from American society and interests. The Arabists dominated American policy and shaped our perception of the Arab world throughout the colonial and interwar periods. But after World War II, the diplomatic corps began to change, reflecting the country's new ethnic and social diversity. Kaplan describes the impact of this change within the State Department, showing how the advent of Irish Catholics, Jews, and Harvard-trained regional experts created internal pressures that slowly loosened the Arabists' grip on Middle East diplomacy in the postwar period. Drawing on interviews, memoirs, and other official and private sources, Kaplan reconstructs the hundred-year history of the Arabist elite, and traces their decline against the background of this social transformation.

In this highly acclaimed and original work of social and cultural history, the author of the bestselling Balkan Ghosts relates the never-before-told story of the expatriate elite that shaped American policy in the Middle East for more than a century. 39 photos.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028740232
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 355,714
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert D. Kaplan

 
Robert D. Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington and a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. He was recently the Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. His twelve previous books include Balkan Ghosts, Eastward to Tartary, and Warrior Politics. He is a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2001

    Interesting and useful

    For the casual reader, 'The Arabists' is an interesting and readable window into a little-known subset of the U.S. foreign policy community. If you happen to work with or in this community, the book is useful historical background; the day of the Arabist elite is over, but some of its attitudes and customs linger.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2000

    a truely honest book

    This is one of few books written with a detailed knowledge of the complexities of the American-Arabic relations and with a genuine and honest attitude to this great culture.Its certainely the attitude America needs to take to establish peace not only in the middle east but also here in America in the years to come.A vision based on fairness and objectivity and free from all the jewish lobby that poison our foriegn policy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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