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Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East Paperback – January 11, 1990


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Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East + The Struggle for Power in Syria: Politics and Society under Asad and the Ba'th Party
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (January 11, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520069765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520069763
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British journalist Seale ( The Struggle for Syria ) here fashions a political portrait of President Hafiz al-Asad that emphasizes his patience, caution and courage without obscuring his conspiratorial past or his selective ruthlessness. He describes Asad's rise from peasant origins to national leadership in a bloodless coup, analyzes the view from Damascus of Syria's role in the wars with Israel and Asad's continuing efforts to block piecemeal settlements with Israel by other Arab countries. Double-crossed, according to Seale, by his Egyptian partner Anwar Sadat during the 1973 October War, Asad was then "duped" by Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy and "robbed" of the fruits of the war. Asad is quoted as claiming that his goal is not Syrian supremacy but a balance of power, and that a fair peace will come about only when the Arabs achieve strategic parity with the Jewish state. An admiring but not uncritical biography of Israel's most dangerous enemy, this book sheds light on an enigmatic leader. Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

More than an excellent biography of Hafiz al-Asad, Syria's national leader, this is a tour de force of contemporary Syrian history and politics. Seale, a Middle Eastern specialist and a journalist, had direct access to Asad. Here is a clear successor to Seale's near monumental The Struggle for Syria (1965) and a substantial companion to Moshe Ma'oz's Asad: The Sphinx of Damascus; A Political Biography ( LJ 9/15/88). Seale perceives Asad as a masterful politician maneuvering Syria into a position of dominance in the Middle East and uncovers much of the mystery that has surrounded the Syrian leader by documenting Asad's interactions, directly and indirectly, with national and regional leaders. Well recommended and indeed required reading for anyone interested in the contemporary Middle East.
- Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba Coll . , Salisbury, N.C.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Hussain Abdul-Hussain on May 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is probably the only available biography of late Syrian President Hafez Assad. Keep in mind that Seale was given all that he had asked for - like many other Western scholars who were treated to the court and became apologetic to the regime - to write this book which makes him, so to speak, the spokesperson of the presidential court. Even though Seale reports about the many murders that happened during the career of Assad, he does so from an apologetic perspective. Assad is always depicted as having to kill before his adversaries kill him. While this could be true in the context of tribal Arab politics, it relieves Assad of all of the responsibilities of the killings that happened during his reign.

Additionally, the book lacks proper investigative methodology.

Things are narrated from the eyes of Assad, with some minimal background. When Seale talks about Assad's brother Rifaat who tried to replace his brother through a coups d'etats in the early 80s, for example, Seale gives an account about Rifaat that could have only been written after Rifaat had fallen out with his brother and was sent to exile. Rifaat is described as a hot tempered gangster kid since his early childhood who used to carry a stick and bully his peers. While reports about Rifaat's atrocities during his rule under his brother should not be undermined, stories about Rifaat's innate hot temper should be taken with a grain of salt. If this book was written during the days of Rifaat while still in favor with his brother, then a different account would have probably been produced about the president's brother. Additionally, the sources are limited and often not thoroughly cross examined to establish their credibility when writing the history of Syria's dictator.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ahmed Al-Okelly on April 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Until I got this book I had never read anything about Hafiz al-Asad, the man who ruled Syria with a metal fist for so long it seems for ever. This is basically the sole source of information about this man who liked to stay in the dim light until the day he died. To say that the book is not biased and pro-Assad would be inaccurate. In many parts the author has done his best to "walk the rope" as the Arabian saying implies, that is not to annoy Assad while trying to appear objective and neutral. This is a must read for anyone genuinely interested in learning about the complexities of power struggles in the Middle East. The book stays away from the gory details, and I agree with one of the reviewers that it does not unmask the ugly side(s) of modern Syria under the role of Assad. This gets three stars for being a good reseach piece and for being able to document many interesting details kept hidden for years about the life of Assad and his rule. After reading this book many of the truth that were kept masked about Syria are still not unmasked, and leaves more questions to be asked, of which will it ever be revealed. Two stars off for this disappoinment. I would have put at least one star back if this was noted by the author.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
You can't understand the Arab-Israeli Conflict without understanding Syria, the most unjustly maligned state in the Middle East.
One gains a great appreciation for the achievements of Hafez Asad and Syria.Of all of the Arab states, Syria has remained the most faithful to the vision of the modern Arab nation,despite being under constant harassment and attack from Israel, Islamic terrorists, the United States and even other Arab governments.In fact, it is Syria's faithfulness to secular Arab nationalism which makes it anathema to Israel, the oil interests and the Islamists.
Although I am in no position to judge the truthfulness of Seale's Syrian interviewees they certainly ring true in many cases, and his published sources are impeccable.The "revelations" concerning Israel's arms trade to Iran which some find objectionable are corroborated by Iranian, Israeli, Syrian and Western sources.If not for the activism of Ayatollah Montazeri and Syrian intelligence, Reagan's "arms for hostages" deals and the North network would have never come to light.Syrian claims were fully vindicated.
Seale's account of Kissinger's manipulations and the behavior of other US officials is consistent with what is known from Iranian, Egyptian and Jordanian diplomats.Asad's version of the 1973 War is certainly less contradictory than the self-serving accounts provided by Egyptian, US and Israeli officials.Admirers of Sadat will be enlightened but disillusioned by his betrayal of the Arab cause in 1973 and in the years of negotiation which ensued.
Asad's shrewdness in his handling of the Lebanese Civil War is justly highlighted by Seale, and one comes to appreciate the skill and intelligence behind the Syrian alliance with Iran.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
Although this book purports to be a biography of Asad, it is really a whirlwind tour of 20th-century Syrian history. The book's main focus is on its foreign relations with the Middle East, the Soviet Union, and the United States. With clarity and insight, Seale details such seminal events as the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, the Middle East peace process, and the Gulf Wars. Seale provides the perfect balance of explanation and analysis while never getting bogged down in useless detail. Useful analyses of such key figures as Sadat, Begin, and Sharon are just as relevant today as they were when this book was written. His detailing of Asad's relationship with Kissinger is enough to make the reader cringe for, unfortunately, Kissinger's duplicity and manipulations were not limited to such places as Chile,Kurdistan,etc. This book is invaluable for its enumeration on the political situation in the Middle East. Valuable to the reader struggling to gain an overall understanding of the Middle East, this book also shrewdly portrays Asad's rise to power both in his own country and in the Middle East.
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