Tyler draws on newly opened presidential archives to dramatize the approach to the Middle East across U.S. presidencies, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. He takes us into the Oval Office and shows how our leaders made momentous decisions; at the same time, the sweep of this narrative - from the Suez crisis to the Iran hostage crisis to George W. Bush's catastrophe in Iraq - lets us see the big picture as never before. Tyler tells a story of presidents being drawn into the affairs of the region 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.
Above all, he shows how each president has managed to undo the policies of his predecessor, often fomenting both anger against America on the streets of the region and confusion at home.
A World of Trouble is the Middle East book we need now: free of cant and ideology, and rich in insight about the very human challenges a new president will face as he tries to restore America's standing in the region.
©2008 Patrick Tyler; (P)2008 Tantor
"A superb, evenhanded account of America's role in a continuing tragedy." (Kirkus)
While I hoped this book would provide insights into the handling of the middle-east by the different Presidents, it failed to deliver. What is worse, the book is flawed by a serious and distinct bias.
Unfortunately, the amount of insights into the actual decision making process varies dramatically; much if not most of it is very superficial. The author reduces the president in question to a single sentence description and then repeats it ad nauseum. Additionally, while for some presidents (LBJ, Nixon, and Clinton) the author does have extensive material to draw on and can show the decision making process in detail, for the rest of them, he really does not provide much information. Without these details the book provides nothing new.
More disturbing is the authors undisguised bias. This author tells the story from a decidedly pro-arab/anti-israeli view. If you are one of those people who honestly believe that Israel is a universally malign force that is wrong in every case, you will find this a very well balanced book. However, for those who believe that neither side has a monopoly on truth and justice, the bias will be apparent. His writing methodically denigrates Israel and anyone who support it. Additionally, Israeli losses are described briefly in clinical terms while every Arab loss is described in heart-rending and bloody detail. Because of the short space allowed for reviews I cannot go into greater detail.
Despite the fact that I feel this book is both very biased and fails to accomplish its self-stated goals, I still recommend reading this book because: 1)it is on the Presidents shelf. More significantly; 2) by reading it, I was given a valuable insight into how the Arab nations have viewed the last fifty years . In a perverse way, the books very value lies in its extreme bias. I recommend this book for anyone who has a strong foundation in history (thus able to recognize the bias) for an Arab view of history
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