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American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 3rd Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0807858981
ISBN-10: 0807858986
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American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 + Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945, Updated Edition (American Crossroads) + Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations: 1820-2001
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In contrast to many post-September 11 studies, which seek to satisfy the demand for instant analysis, Little's fascinating book is based on extensive and long-range research into the history of U.S.-Mideastern relations. Informative and well balanced, this work of diplomatic and political history raises provocative questions about that history that shed an intriguing light not only on the events of September 11 but on the past 60 years of American encounters with the Middle East. Little's overarching theme is the complex and sometimes inconsistent attitudes and interests that determined U.S. policy in the region. The author contends that American political activity has been hampered by profound cultural misunderstanding, resulting in unforeseen and unintended negative consequences. In eight invigorating chapters, Clark University historian Little (Malevolent Neutrality) focuses on the implications of oil, the persistence of racial and cultural stereotypes (whether anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic) and the importance of Israel in American foreign policy. After reviewing all the major episodes, he poses the important question of whether wealth and power have provided America with the moral authority necessary to control the Middle East. Little's own assessment is not entirely positive. His text is highly accessible, yet offers serious and careful analysis. At a time when the U.S. is possibly on the verge of a major military intervention in Iraq, this stimulating book is highly recommended.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Doug Little has produced not just a distinguished study, but perhaps the best book yet on the United States and the Middle East.—Robert J. McMahon, University of Florida

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 3rd Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807858986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807858981
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By on May 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Nearly two decades ago, Douglas Little appeared on the diplomatic history scene with a monograph entitled "Malevolent Neutrality," about the United States, the United Kingdom and the origins of the Spanish Civil War. Although much of the book consisted of quarrels and squabbles between the US, the UK and Spain over foreign investors in Spain, the book nevertheless had a certain power. Here was the Spanish Republic desperately trying to preserve its democracy while the US and UK were whining over foreign investment rules, exaggerating Communist and Anarchist influence and imposing the malevolent neutrality of the title. Now Little has come up with a new book with the promising title "American Orientalism." The book consists of eight chapters which look at American images of the Middle East, America's relationship with Middle East Oil, the relationship between America and Israel, National Security and the Soviet Threat, the Nasserist "threat", the idea of modernization, "limited war" in the Gulf from the 1958 Lebanon intervention to the defeat of Afghanistan, and the Arab-Israeli peace process. The book has certain virtues. We certainly get more historical perspective than most discussions of the topic. We learn about the generally condescending and shallow American view of Arabs, usually seen as narrow-minded, backward frustrated fanatics. We learn about how the American government bent or ignored the anti-trust rules so that American oil companies wouldn't be inconvenienced in their exploitation of Arab oil. We learn about the long Arab-Israeli peace process, where Israeli recalcitrance and bad faith is as much a problem as Arab terrorism.Read more ›
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered this book when a chapter from it appeared in a collection of readings for a college class on national security. The chapter, "America and Israel: the making of a special relationship" impressed me with its account of the events involving the two countries from before Israel's statehood. I've now read the entire book and find that chapter and another, "Opportunities Lost and Found" dealing with the issue of the Palestinians and attempts to find a way to peace in the area are the best of the volume. To revisit events in a concise, chronological order gave me a new appreciation of the frustrations experienced there in the last 50 years.
Approaching the mid-east on different subjects, be it the oil issue, the Cold War, or the Arab nationalist movements, Little moves right along finding just the right amount of detail to relate. He is able to cover the same period repeatedly from different angles without repeating himself. Each chapter presented a new field of events to be tied into others already described. One comes away with a sense of the complexity of the mid-east. This is what Little is trying to convey.
I did not feel that the author portrayed the United States as "bad" by any means. What he is saying is that the U.S. desire to make things better combined with an often simplistic view of the Orient can easily get the U.S. into trouble. He points out the there is "occidentalism" in the view from the mid-east of the U.S. It's no accident that he discusses Mark Twain's book "Innocents Abroad" in the first chapter and returns to it in the last.
A second important point is that domestic politics can deflect the U.S. from a path it might otherwise follow, particularly in regard to Israel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lee L. on February 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In American Orientalism, Douglas Little sets out to chronicle America's involvement with the Middle East since 1945. On the whole, Little's work is an informative read, but there are several problems that ultimately keep the book from being successful.

The book is organized thematically, with chapters devoted to oil, the special relationship with Israel, and America's struggle against Arab nationalism, among other subjects. Within each chapter, Little begins around 1945 and works his way up to the Carter administration. Most of the major issues as far as American interests go are covered, and Little handles the topics in a thorough manner. However, there are some problems with the organization of the book. The first chapter deals with American "orientalism." In this chapter, Little discusses the ways in which Arabs have been historically portrayed in America. The chapter feels completely tacked on and does not fit in well with the rest of the book at all. There is an obsession with the magazine National Geographic that borders on the absurd, as if the ways in which the magazine portrayed Arabs somehow affected U.S. policy. It goes without saying that America at times portrays other cultures in a negative way, but this has nothing to do with the bulk of Little's work. A cynic might suggest that Little included this chapter for the sole reason of naming the book after it, which could possibly result in increased book sales among the Edward Said crowd. This is particularly troubling and perhaps hypocritical when Little refers to Yemen as a "backward" land on page 184.

Another issue that arises is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Little does include a chapter on the subject, but it also does not seem to fit along with the rest of the book.
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