Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East

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An unprecedented history of American involvement in the Middle East.

In this definitive and revelatory work, noted historian Geoffrey Wawro approaches America's role in the Middle East in a fundamentally new way-by encompassing the last century of the entire region rather than focusing narrowly on a particular country or era. With verve and authority, he offers piercing analysis of the region's iconic events over the past one hundred years-from the birth of Israel to the rise of Al Qaeda. Throughout, he draws telling parallels between America's past mistakes and its current dilemmas, proving that we're in today's muddle not just because of our old errors but because we keep repeating those errors.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Wawro (Univ. of North Texas; The Franco-Prussian War) has crafted a coherent and highly readable analysis of American involvement in the Middle East over the past century, covering everything from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the 2008 presidential election. Whereas many books have been written about one Middle East nation or one aspect of this topic, Wawro successfully provides the big picture, helpfully drawing together themes and patterns that have emerged across various U.S. presidential administrations. Although at times Wawro is quite critical of Israel, the Israel lobby, and the George W. Bush administration (all justifiably, many would argue), his overall approach is evenhanded and objective, largely avoiding partisan bias. VERDICT This is a very good survey of recent U.S. involvement in the Middle East. The book's emphasis on 1948 to the present makes it a useful companion to Michael Oren's Power, Faith, and Fantasy, which primarily focuses on 1776–1948. Recommended for readers seeking a deeper understanding of current events in the Middle East. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]—Brian T. Sullivan, Alfred Univ., NY
Kirkus Reviews
A keen-eyed, sweeping survey of the depressingly familiar erroneous U.S. policy in the Middle East since the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Wawro (Military History/Univ. of North Texas; The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871, 2003, etc.) asks some pointed questions about American policy in the Middle East, as he pursues these debacles chronologically, from the ignoring of Palestinian demands in the creation of Israel and being blind-sided by Cold War paranoia, to growing entanglement in nasty conflicts such as the Suez Crisis, Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War and Operation Desert Storm. "Did we attempt to repair the damage done by European imperialism, or merely settle into the wreckage in our own American way?" he asks. American support of Israel even in the face of outrageous aggression caused persistent snares in U.S.-Middle East relations for the next 50 years, creating Arab resentment, feeding nationalism and reorganizing the balance of power in the region. After the Suez Crisis, Britain and France were out, the U.S. and Soviet Union were in, and the so-called Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957, pledging $200 million to combat communism in the region, prevailed. Nixon continually grappled with the Soviet threat to control Middle East oil sources via Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. With the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Saddam Hussein's Iraq saw its opportunity, and the internal combustions reverberated in the form of jihad, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to New York City. At this point American influence was in tatters. In addition to providing a thorough history of the region, Wawro pays close attention to the hotheaded reflexes of George W. Bush and his "Vulcans," who"pushed ahead without even a nod to those important debates that had flared through the White House forty-five years earlier."An excellent argument for the necessity of careful sifting of historical precedent and error. Agent: Tina Bennett/Janklow & Nesbit
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118831
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/23/2011
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 774,274
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Wawro is the General Olinto Mark Barsanti Professor of Military History and Director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas. Wawro has hosted many programs on the History Channel and taught for several years at the U.S. Naval War College. He received his B.A. from Brown and his Ph.D. from Yale.
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Table of Contents

The Middle East 1918

The Middle East Today

Introduction 1

1 Zion 15

2 Oil 49

3 Exodus 86

4 Ajax 124

5 Nasser 153

6 Suez 198

7 The Eisenhower Doctrine 229

8 A Six-Day War 253

9 The Nixon Doctrine 288

10 Great Civilization 329

11 Desert One 354

12 Jihad 374

13 Saddam 398

14 Desert Storm 422

15 9/11 456

16 Enduring Freedom 492

17 Into Iraq 509

18 Iraqi Freedom 551

Conclusion 593

Acknowledgments 611

Notes 613

Bibliography 664

Index 673

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