World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East--from the Cold War to the War on Terror / Edition 1

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Overview

In this gripping story of American misadventures in the Middle East, Patrick Tyler shows how U.S. presidents-even the best-intentioned-have repeatedly taken unsound, dangerously na?ve actions in the region. Again and again, seemingly principled White House diplomatic efforts there have fallen to the pressures of domestic politics; foundered because of poor execution; or, worse, been undermined by duplicity, deceit, and outright foolishness.

Tyler dramatizes the troubled U.S. approach to the Middle East-from the Suez crisis to the Iran hostage debacle to the two wars against Iraq-in this sweeping, comprehensive narrative, revealing the big picture as never before. He tells a story of presidents being drawn into Middle East affairs against their will, being kept in the dark by local potentates, being led astray by grasping subordinates, and making decisions about the internal affairs of countries they hardly understand. Most tellingly, he shows how each president has managed to undo the policies of his predecessor, often fomenting both anger against America in the streets of the region and confusion at home. And in a new afterword, he considers the consequences of George W. Bush's presidency in the region and the challenges faced by President Barack Obama.

A World of Trouble is the Middle East book we need now: compulsively readable, free of cant and ideology, and rich in insight about the complex passions Americans have about our country's approach to the region.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An authoritative, richly detailed account of American policy in the Middle East . . . [Tyler] writes vividly, allowing the reader access to White House meetings, huddles in the corridors of power, seats at international summits."—Adam LeBor, The New York Times

"Patrick Tyler . . . has written an engaging but idiosyncratic account of U.S. interactions with the Middle East from 1956 onward."—Steven Simon, The Washington Post

"Tyler documents not the interest of Israel but the cost in treasure and blood that the United States and the Middle East peoples have paid during decades without a coherent US policy in the region. He shows vividly the damage done by Israeli and Arab leaders alike in persistently bringing too little, too late, to the peace process."—Charles A. Radin, The Boston Globe

"Tyler is forthright in a way American journalists usually are not. . . . [A World of Trouble] completes a formidable charge sheet against the occupants of the White House over the last half century which is, in its page-by-page human detail, as gripping as it is depressing."—Martin Woollacott, The Guardian (UK)

"Rich in irony and incident, Patrick Tyler's history of the White House and the Middle East would make instructive reading for the latest occupant of the Oval Office. . . . A lucid and even-handed introduction to a deeply contentious subject."—Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times (UK)

Adam LeBor
…an authoritative, richly detailed account of American policy in the Middle East…[Tyler] writes vividly, allowing the reader access to White House meetings, huddles in the corridors of power, seats at international summits.
—The New York Times
Steven Simon
Patrick Tyler…has written an engaging but idiosyncratic account of U.S. interactions with the Middle East from 1956 onward.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In this epic, remarkably readable history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East from Eisenhower to Bush II, Washington Post reporter Tyler uses an up-close, journalistic style to depict the power struggles and compromises that have defined the past half-century. Tyler focuses on key turning points in U.S.-Middle East relations and documents the conversations and real-time decision-making processes of the presidents, cabinet members and other key figures. Readers are treated to an intimate view of Eisenhower's careful, steady diplomacy during the Suez crisis, Kissinger's egocentric and fateful decision to fully arm Israel in the October war of 1973 while Nixon struggled through the Watergate scandal, and the tangled web of communication and intentional deceit during the Reagan administration that led to the Iran-Contra scandal. Tyler makes the issues and relationships clear without resorting to oversimplification or ideological grandstanding, and his journalistic instincts steer him toward direct quotation and telling anecdotes rather than generalization. Readers in the market for an examination of how leadership has embroiled the U.S. in the Middle East are well-advised to consult this riveting text. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A veteran journalist chronicles 60 years of U.S. fecklessness in the Middle East. The colorful narrative opens in 2004 with CIA Director George Tenet drunk and angry during a post-midnight swim in a Saudi royal family pool, a perfect metaphor for American floundering in the Middle East for the past few decades. Almost nothing that follows dispels this image of the United States, bitter and baffled by the ceaseless problems posed by this region. Tyler (A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China: An Investigatory History, 1999, etc.) uses the frame of the presidency to survey America's involvement in a place that, because of its oil resources, the ideological challenge of Islamic extremism and America's ties to Israel, demands the attention of the nation's "highest political authority." Since Eisenhower, the White House has grappled with an unrelenting parade of Middle East conflicts: Gamal Nasser's 1956 seizure of the Suez Canal; the 1967 Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel; the 1973 Yom Kippur War; the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the takeover of Tehran's American embassy; the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 1987 Intifada in the Gaza Strip; the eight-year Iran-Iraq war beginning in 1988; the First Gulf War against Saddam Hussein; the second Intifada; and the 2003 still-unresolved American invasion of Iraq. Tyler demonstrates how American presidents' responses to these and countless lesser eruptions have been shaped by Cold War strategies, War on Terror exigencies, shifting alliances among Arab leaders and a variety of other factors that have consistently frustrated American attempts at peacemaking. Although the has a few kind words for Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, nopresident escapes Tyler's criticism for mostly fumbling attempts to deal-or not deal-with the region that continues to pose the greatest threat to world peace. The heroes here (Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin) are few, the successes (Camp David Accords) rare, the villains and rogues many. With his reporter's instinct for telling detail, Tyler offers a history that makes for enlightening, if depressing, reading. A superb, evenhanded account of America's role in a continuing tragedy. Agent: Bob Bernstein/D4EO Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374532000
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/16/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 508,797
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

PATRICK TYLER has reported extensively from both the Middle East and Washington for The New York Times and The Washington Post. A Texan, he lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Prologue: America in the Middle East 3

1 The Arab Awakening: Eisenhower, Nasser, and Suez 19

2 The Six-Day War: Johnson and Israel 64

3 Nixon and Brezhnev: Cold War and International Terror 107

4 Nixon and Kissinger: Yom Kippur-The October War 135

5 Jimmy Carter: Camp David and the Struggle with Menachem Begin 176

6 Carter and the Shah: Khomeini's Revolution 210

7 The Shame of Lebanon: Reagan's Warriors in the Middle East 249

8 The Iran-Contra Affair: The Clash of Saudi and Israeli Influence 308

9 Nebuchadnezzar-Land: Saddam Hussein and the Persian Gulf War 352

10 Bill Clinton: Tilting at Peace, Flailing at Saddam 402

11 Clinton: Flight from Terror; Lost Peace 457

12 George W. Bush: A World of Trouble 525

Afterword 555

Notes 567

Acknowledgments 617

Index 621

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