Veteran journalist Dickey ( With the Contras, LJ 3/1/86) traversed the Arab Middle East as Newsweek' s bureau chief in Cairo in the last half of the Eighties, covering stories such as the American bombing of Libya, the disintegration of Lebanon, and more. Here, he draws on his experiences for a series of vignettes of individuals he met. From an 80-year old legendary British explorer to oilmen and tanker captains, Soviet diplomats, and the Egyptian Nobel laureate for Literature (1988), Naguib Mahfouz, Dickey paints entertaining and insightful portraits. He writes with sympathy and telling detail about these individuals, depicting the human dimension of international crises and cultural change in the Arab East. Dickey leaves most of the political analysis to others like Thomas Friedman (From Beirut to Jerusalem, LJ 7/89). Readers will share Dickey's sentiments in his concluding confession, ``the new world created by the juxtapositions of Arabia and America. . . had won me over . '' A book for the general reader, this belongs on the shelves of all public libraries. For another American's view of Arabia, see Peter Theroux's Sandstorms: Days and Nights in Arabia, reviewed below.-- James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.