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Beyond America's Grasp: A Century of Failed Diplomacy in the Middle East Hardcover – October 27, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0374281243 ISBN-10: 0374281246 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374281246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374281243
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In what should become required reading for those interested in the Middle East, Cohen, director of the Institute of Middle East Peace and Development, provides a richly detailed history of diplomacy in the region and its implications for current relations. The book begins with Woodrow Wilson's idealistic initiatives, which germinated into a confused legacy [that] continues to be at the heart of the problem between the United States and the Middle East. Cohen takes a tour of major players and key events, including Egypt and its nationalist movement, Iran under British imperialism, the roots of a Saudi-U.S. alliance and the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cohen provides broad suggestions for contemporary diplomacy, generally emphasizing the importance of avoiding a one-size-fits-all policy. He discusses policies in the region of both Bush administrations, and remains timely in presaging the new administration's diplomatic message. When Cohen concludes, To overcome despair over these relationships, which is now so common, requires the elaboration in our imagination of a best-case scenario, he sounds prescient, and the rigorously researched history he provides make his words ring true. (Nov.)
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Review

"In what should become required reading for those interested in the Middle East, Cohen, director of the Institute of Middle East Peace and Development, provides a richly detailed history of diplomacy in the region and its implications for current relations. The book begins with Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic initiatives, which germinated into a 'confused legacy [that] continues to be at the heart of the problem between the United States and the Middle East.' Cohen takes a tour of major players and key events, including Egypt and its nationalist movement, Iran under British imperialism, the roots of a Saudi-U.S. alliance and the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cohen provides broad suggestions for contemporary diplomacy, generally emphasizing the importance of avoiding a 'one-size-fits-all' policy. He discusses policies in the region of both Bush administrations, and remains timely in presaging the new administration’s diplomatic message. When Cohen concludes, 'To overcome despair over these relationships, which is now so common, requires the elaboration in our imagination of a best-case scenario,' he sounds prescient, and the rigorously researched history he provides make his words ring true." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
 
“A big-picture overview of the long-teetering relationship between America and the Arab nations . . . Cohen makes a magnificent case for the ‘emotional impact’ of Arab defeat in the face of Israeli force, while at the same time scolding those nations for persistence in ‘self-definition by negation of the other.’ Both hectoring and wise, this historical blueprint makes a powerful argument for building mutual respect in the region.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
"A brilliant social psychologist and political analyst who has devoted his entire life to counseling Middle Eastern leaders on how to promote peace, Cohen's Beyond America's Grasp is a model of alternative thinking, a gift of rare wisdom, the fruit of four decades of welding knowledge and experience."
--Yaron Ezrahi, author of RUBBER BULLETS: Power and Conscience in Modern Israel

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Naturale on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a refreshing and very readable book which gives a unique perspective on the Middle East. It clearly explains the impact on the region by the Western Powers and the impact of European colonialism and U.S. naivete. Also, Cohen takes each Arab country individually to show its own needs and influences, and we can begin to stop seeing the Middle East as simply one anti-American Islamist bloc. Is peace possible, not only between Israel and its neighbors but between the Arab countries and the U.S.? You need not reach the same conclusions as Cohen but his lucid details give an understanding that we in the West are in great need of. This is a valuable book and very pertinent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luis on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a great book to help those who limit their knowledge of the ME within US news sources. Everyone that wants to work in any way with people from some of these countries it will be very beneficial for your interaction. This book was excellent except from my limited perspective in the complex reality of the Israel/ Palestinian relationship it seemed a fraction favoring Israel. Conclusion is that books like this should be part of the education of this society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Mitchell on January 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With over 40 years of experience in the Middle East, Prof. Stephen Cohen is well equipped to give us the basic relevant history and culture in the Middle Eastern countries most relevant to American policy: Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. Occasionally he brings in personal anecdotes but most of the information comes from the extensive bibliography found in the back of the book. Cohen offers no magic formulas or solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for rebuilding Iraq or for anything else for that matter. But for those without a background in Middle Eastern studies this is a good place to go for relevant information to flush out the headlines from World War I forward.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By dleak86 on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is a "must read" for anyone who wants to know the real story of politics and policy in the Middle East. From the time of the Ottoman Empire to the present day, Cohen does an excellent job of presenting the various countries and their leaders, as well as those behind-the-scene players, in a manner that is both interesting and informative to the reader! Issues I had always wondered about are presented, then clarified by Cohen! Of particular interest to me was how Cohen thoroughly explained the role the USA has played in the Middle East over time, and with various administrations in power...great job! I highly recommend this book!
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