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What Every American Should Know About the Middle East Paperback – December 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: What Every American Should Know about
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452289599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452289598
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Part primer with historical overviews and bios on key players and part tabloid-style digest, Rossi's series entry nonetheless manages to remain entirely informative throughout. Setting itself apart by addressing preconceived notions, the book is divided into chapters on specific countries in the Middle East, emphasizing their uniqueness in matters of energy, military, religion/ethnicity, money, politics, unity, and theocracy. Statistics are provided on the war, including civilian and militia deaths, refugees, and moneys spent on Iraq and unaccounted for. Rossi's previous titles in her WEASK series (whateveryamericanshouldknow.com) hint at the tone of this book, e.g., What Every American Should Know About Who's Really Running the World: The People, Corporations, and Organizations That Control Our Future. Her boldly outspoken style might not appeal equally to everyone; one chapter is titled "European Designs: Hacking up the Middle East." However, her cheat sheets help clarify, her vocabulary is defined, and there are extensive footnotes. Overall, this is recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.—Krista Bush, Univ. of New Haven Lib., West Haven, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Melissa Rossi is an award-winning veteran journalist who has penned articles for Newsweek, Newsday, Esquire, George, MSNBC, The New York Observer, and, until recently, wrote a regular column for National Geographic Traveler. She has written extensively about Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and has lived abroad for many years.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By creviews on January 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've struggled to find a basically non-biased book on Middle East history that is written in a casual style. Reading this book is like having a conversation with a friend. Overall, I found this book is a big help in understanding our current day politics. This book should not be your only source of information, but it is a nice place to start.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jason Warren on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rossi's exposition into the Middle East is hardly expository in nature- while her discussions are thorough and she does a remarkable job of covering both a crash course in the politics of every Middle Eastern state (Oman and Jordan were particularly fun reads, and I learned a lot about 'hypothetical development projects' in Dubai that recently made major headlines) and a thematic overview of major tensions in the region. Sadly, a lot of her analysis comes down to the same basic points:
1) America is dominated by a neo-conservative conspiracy that is both blood and jew thirsty- rightly so, Rossi blames a lot of the region's problems on a Western foreign policy hellbent on pursuing stable access to energy resources and/or fulfilling a Zionist Christian belief that populating the Middle East with Jewish citizens will lead to the second coming of the messiah. The point is well articulated early in the text, but gets redundant as she KEEPS REFERRING TO IT IN ALMOST EVERY CHAPTER, and in some cases, reexplains the foundations of her argument in the same terms.
2) Religious divides are problematic, though no one really knows why- Rossi does an excellent job deciphering the various sects of Islam (I learned what makes a Sunni different than a Shia, for example, and it has a lot to do with the line of ascensions for Muslim prophets in the 600s). What she doesn't explain is how these religious tensions manifest into new conflicts and why anyone continues to care about these tensions today. Rossi also blames a lot of problems in the region on the 1979 Iranian revolution, but needs to do a better job specifically linking the revolution's unique manifestations in each country.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brad on April 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
The information provided in this book is very good, and explains a lot about the middle east in a user-friendly way. However, the bias against the U.S. and Israel is not very friendly. And even borders on hatred. Makes me question what the author was paid to portray rogue entities with sub-par moral beliefs in such a good light. Seems like the author has a respectable background in journalism, working for high-name companies, but come on. Suffice to say, I give 3 stars based on the in-depth information content and user-friendly layout of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By goofyfoot on April 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
i went from the "clueless american" to what i feel is a solid understanding of why things are and i feel able to put together informed opinions on what needs to be done. i also went from completely avoiding news about the region to having an al-jazeera app. on my phone and am hoping for a middle eastern vacation. i understand why some feel a bias in rossi but will look for more books on certain important subjects for other points of view. in my opinion a great book that will inspire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Gueringer on April 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book 4 stars.
Being an American in the MIddle East gives you a different perspective on the information in the book.
All in all, I did think it interesting and informative.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Muir on June 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was really optimistic about this book. Glancing through the contents, it looked like Ms Rossi had something to say, which is a good alternative to generic information, and her acknowledgements section showed she had put real time and effort into researching, writing, and publishing this work. Unfortunately almost all that you will get from this book is badly organized angry rants about American foreign policy and other Western meddling in these countries. I am plenty critical and upset about these issues too, but honestly the whining righteous attitude makes this book unreadable. Her information is accurate and definitely there were sections that educated me and even surprised me, but it has all been written before and better in more serious and definitive sources.
I'm fairly familiar with the Arab and Islamic world, and this text was surprisingly disappointing when I went to look for facts about a place I hadn't learned about yet. I met a few people from Kuwait here in the US and later picked up Rossi's book, thinking "Oh yeah, I don't actually know about Kuwait, let's check it out..." All she had to offer were things that pertained to their interactions with Iraq and intervention from the US, plus a little about their oil economy and nanny state which actually are important. Even though she points out that they are a somewhat unique though small nation, she never really describes what sets them apart from other Arabs in a land where subtleties make a world of difference. I swear she talks more about stealth bombers than Kuwaitis.
I can't reccomend this book. I'm probably going to just cut out a few pictures or something then recycle it so other people don't have to be bored or misled by it.
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Format: Paperback
I have never written a review, but after the first 10 pages, as well as bits and pieces here and there, I'm declairing the book bin bound, before I get any more angry.... and thought I'd save anyone interested in reading the book some time, money and blood pressure issues....

Page after page of I hate American politics because... Page after page of I hate Bush and Cheney because... Occassionally an 'I'd like to slap Ahmedinijad' or a Sadaam 'gassed "some" citizens' (heaven forbid any facts on why some of the middle eastern leaders are a problem to their citizens and the world), but the author will take her time documenting every liberal theory about Middle Eastern politics and mentions Halliburton and how the US has wronged the Middle East at every corner.

Even if she's right on some of this stuff, and she well may be, the book is written with such a bias that there's no way this should be in the non-fiction isle; maybe non-fiction or philospohy.... Shame, because the topic needs authors that can write well, in a book of this format....
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