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Power, Faith, and Fantasy


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About the Author

Michael B. Oren, Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center, has written numerous works on the Middle East, including the New York Times bestsellers Six Days of War and Power, Faith, and Fantasy. He has taught at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown universities, and currently serves as Israel's ambassador to the United States.


For more than 230 years, the United States has intertwined itself with the Middle East. Starting in 1776 with the attacks by Barbary pirates on American ships and ending with a discussion of America's current involvement in the region, especially Iraq, Oren (senior fellow, Shalem Ctr.; Six Days of War) does a fine job of showing the circumstances that link our two cultures. As a comprehensive examination of the United States' association with the Middle East, his much-needed book fills a gap in the literature. Oren makes history come alive in the personal stories of famous and not-so-famous Americans and their connection with the Middle East through piracy, slavery, exploration, colonialism, missionary work, diplomacy, political and military issues, culture, tourism, economics, and the extension of such values as democracy and women's rights. This is a wonderfully rich and thought-provoking history, with an extensive bibliography, notes, a chronology, illustrations, and four original maps. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/06.]-Melissa Aho, Metropolitan State Univ. Lib., St. Paul, MN Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"When a brilliant, lucid historian such as Michael B. Oren ... brings the past back to life ... it is a shaft of light in a dark sky." -- Robert Kagan - Washington Post Book World "Hugely ambitious, drawing on hundreds of original sources to create a finely balanced overview of this enormously complex subject." -- Max Rodenbeck - New York Times Book Review "Elegant and engaging... Had George W. Bush been abled to read this magnificent book before he launched Operation Iraqi Freedom... he might well have realized just how dangerous it has been to shoot first and ask questions later in the Middle East over the past 200 years." -- Douglas Little - Foreign Affairs "A tour de force, brilliantly researched and written, and extremely interesting as well as informative." -- Henry Kissinger "A landmark achievement." -- Walter Russell Mead, Council on Foreign Relations

In this engaging if unbalanced survey, the author of the acclaimed Six Days of War finds continuity in U.S. relations with the Middle East from the early 19th-century war against the Barbary pirates to today's Iraq war. As America's power grew, he contends, strategic considerations became complicated by the region's religious significance, especially to the Protestant missionaries whose interests drove U.S. policy in the 19th century and who championed a Jewish state in Palestine long before the Zionist movement took up that cause. Meanwhile, Oren notes, Americans' romantic fantasies about the Muslim world (as expressed in Mideast-themed movies) have repeatedly run aground on stubborn, squalid realities, most recently in the Iraq fiasco. Oren dwells on the pre-WWII era, when U.S.-Mideast relations were of little significance. The postwar period, when these relations were central to world affairs, gets shoehorned into 127 hasty pages, and the emphasis on continuity gives short shrift to the new and crucial role of oil in U.S. policy making. Oren's treatment views this history almost entirely through American eyes; the U.S. comes off as usually well intentioned and idealistic, if often confused and confounded by regional complexities. Oren's is a fluent, comprehensive narrative of two centuries of entanglement, but it's analytically disappointing. Photos. (Jan. 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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