Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II

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"A breathtaking narrative of decisions taken, brazen motives, and backroom dealings, Three Kings is the first history of America's efforts to supplant the British Empire in the Middle East, during and following World War II. From F.D.R. to L.B.J., this is the story of America's scramble for political influence, oil concessions, and a new military presence based on airpower and generous American aid to shaky regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Iraq." "Marshaling new and revelatory evidence from the archives, Gardner deftly weaves together

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Overview

"A breathtaking narrative of decisions taken, brazen motives, and backroom dealings, Three Kings is the first history of America's efforts to supplant the British Empire in the Middle East, during and following World War II. From F.D.R. to L.B.J., this is the story of America's scramble for political influence, oil concessions, and a new military presence based on airpower and generous American aid to shaky regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Iraq." "Marshaling new and revelatory evidence from the archives, Gardner deftly weaves together three decades of U.S. moves in the region, chronicling the early efforts to support and influence the Saudi regime (including the creation of Dhahran air base, the target of Osama bin Laden's first terrorist attack in 1996), the CIA-engineered coup in Iran, Nasser's Egypt, and, finally, the rise of Iraq as a major petroleum power." Here, the tangled threads of oil, U.S. military might, Western commercial interests, and especially the Israel-Palestine question are visible from the very beginning of "The American Century" - a history with frightening relevance for the distant prospect of peace and stability in the region today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gardner (Pay Any Price) finds the roots of a fractured and turbulent Middle East in American machinations in the decades following WWII. He begins with the Truman Doctrine, whose goal of Soviet containment focused American power designs in the Middle East and whose parsing of strategic interests as a “global ideological struggle” enabled an “imperial presidency” and the vast allocation of military spending—hallmarks of 21st-century American foreign policy. Rather than plodding through successive American presidencies and their attendant policies, Gardner homes in on two key events in U.S.–Middle East relations—the 1952 Egyptian revolution and the 1979 Iranian oil crisis—and keeps his readers rapt and focused on the current relevance of these episodes. He weaves together anecdotes, congressional hearings and historical accounts to illustrate how the U.S.'s carefully pursued aim of creating a “sphere of influence” in the Middle East has fomented the unrest in Iran, a fraught Saudi reign and the Israel-Palestine crisis. An erudite, persuasively argued and lucid primer for both the layperson and the expert. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
A useful prequel to the author's The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy from the 1970s to the Present (2008, etc.). Gardner (History/Rutgers Univ.) delves into presidents Roosevelt and Truman's first forays into Saudi Arabia and Iran, as Britain relinquished the imperial reins. At the end of World War II, Roosevelt was already advancing American interests in the Middle East by arranging meetings with some of the key players, such as Egypt's King Farouk and Saudi Arabia's King Ibn Saud, regarding the extension of wartime Lend-Lease aid and the establishment of air bases in the region. Oil was key, as was keeping the Black Sea Straits out of Soviet hands. It was the Truman Doctrine-"the charter under which conservatives and liberals alike waged the good fight for world leadership against successive ‘evil empires' "-that articulated what would become presidential prerogative from Truman to George W. Bush. Gardner systematically demonstrates how Truman's edict became "a doctrine for all seasons." In various ways during the next few decades, the United States aided the shaky regimes in Greece and Turkey; justified the building of the Dhahran Air Field; protected the interests of the fledging Zionist state with the bowing-out of the British; bolstered Shah Reza Pahlavi on Iran's Peacock Throne after the oil nationalization crisis of 1951-53; initiated behind-the-scenes maneuvering to rid Egypt of the intractable General Nasser during the Suez Crisis; and allowed "CIA hireling" Saddam Hussein to take control in Iraq by coup in 1963. Uncovering valuable new factual evidence, Gardner ably guides the reader through the perilous chess game that has played out in the regionsince WWII.
From the Publisher

“Anyone who wants to understand the roots of U.S. Cold War foreign policy and our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should begin with this fine book.”
—Christian G. Appy, author of Patriots

“Devastatingly effective.”
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595584748
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Lloyd C. Gardner is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University and the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including The Long Road to Baghdad. He lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction to a doctrine 1

2 The United States moves into the Middle East 16

3 The Truman Doctrine protectorate 48

4 The Iran oil crisis 85

5 Damming the Egyptian revolution 135

6 Be careful what you wish for 185

Epilogue 225

Notes 229

Index 249

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2010

    A Good Introduction as to How We Got There

    "Three Kings" is a good introduction to America's early involvement in the Middle East and how the flawed assumptions of U.S. leaders contributed to the intensity of the current crisis. It is well-written and accessible to the general reader as well as to the specialist. There are some factual errors, the most glaring of which is a confusion of Muhammad Shah Pahlavi with his father Reza Shah. The book nevertheless presents a fine overview of America's early Mid-East policy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2010

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    Posted October 15, 2011

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