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The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace First Edition Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0553804904
ISBN-10: 0553804901
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this extraordinary account of 20 years on the front lines of Arab-Israeli peacemaking, career diplomat Miller provides an impressively candid appraisal of Middle East peace efforts. Drawing from his extensive experience and 160 interviews with presidents, advisers and negotiators, he apportions censure and praise with an even hand, sparing not even his failures or those of his colleagues. Miller evinces genuine compassion for both sides in the conflict (stressing that Americans cannot fully understand the life-and-death stakes in the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians), while maintaining a detachment that allows him to draw hard conclusions. Miller says that though the two sides hold ultimate responsibility for their shared fate, American involvement is imperative and calls for the tough-love approach of Kissinger and Carter, arguing compellingly that such engagement is now more vital to our national interests, and to our security, than at any time since the late 1940s. Although occasionally paternalistic, Miller's writing is both approachable and deeply smart; this and his absolute failure to take sides mean that this work will doubtlessly influence and enrage—and certainly inspire. (Apr.)
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"A revealing and well-written memoir.... Miller fills his pages with real characters and sly observations... [and] sobering tales from the front."—The New York Times

"Aaron Miller has written the most definitive and insightful work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the attempts to mediate it. He possesses a depth of experience and understanding of this complex situation that is unmatched by anybody else who has participated in this process. His passion, intellect, knowledge, and common sense were invaluable in our tenure as mediators. The Much Too Promised Land is a must read for those who desire a true understanding of the most critical peace issue of our time."—General Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Retired)

“This book is absolutely necessary reading for anyone who cares about a Middle East peace. Aaron David Miller recounts the history of negotiations based on his deep personal involvement. Not only is it a fascinating tale, it helps us better understand the solution that someday will be possible.”–Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

“Aaron David Miller presents a candid insight into the Middle East peace process. His storytelling gifts make the pages difficult to resist as he moves from anecdote to analysis, and offers an intimate portrayal of the minds and personalities of the major players. This is an unpredictable and challenging book.” —George J. Mitchell

“Aaron David Miller shines a floodlight on the workings of America's Middle East policy.  He has written the rarest kind of diplomatic history—both knowing and accessible.  This is a book peopled by large, historic figures—Arabs, Israelis, and Americans, and Aaron Miller renders them with artistry.  He was there as this diplomatic history was made, and he distills it for his readers with honesty and wisdom and no small measure of irreverence.  A superb and exquisitely rendered book.”—Fouad Ajami, Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

"In this absorbing volume, as one who participated in numerous high level negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Aaron Miller offers both information and insight to interested and concerned readers."—Elie Wiesel

“Illuminating... the value of the book is its rich and colorful history of past negotiations, and Miller's sharp-edged analysis of what went wrong and right. Memo to the secretary of state: The next time you head off to Jerusalem, throw out some of those briefing papers to make room for this book in your briefcase.”—Washington Post

“Extraordinary…. Miller evinces genuine compassion for both sides in the conflict … while maintaining a detachment that allows him to draw hard conclusions…. Miller’s writing is both approachable and deeply smart.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Combines memoir with what might be called a primer on diplomacy…. Recommended reading for the next administration, if not this one.”–Kirkus Reviews

“A book of great significance, owing to its breadth, objectivity, and judgment.”—Library Journal, starred review

"Insightful.... [Including] a nuanced meditation on the interface between U.S. domestic politics and the situation in the middle East…. A spirited and intimate account."—Foreign Affairs

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553804901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553804904
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There is no end of reasons for anyone interested in Israel and Palestine to read this book. Miller worked for the State Department for a quarter century, under six different Secretaries of State and five presidents. The two Camp David summits essentially bookend his career.

The book is a veritable fountain of insight into American Middle East diplomacy. Miller never loses sight of both the political complications of attempts to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors, nor of the human elements that are such a vital part of diplomacy.

Unusual for a book of its kind, The Much Too Promised Land is exceptionally well-written and fully engages the reader throughout. It's that rarest of creations, a book of politics and history that's also a real page-turner.

Miller gives us priceless material on a quarter-century of American engagement in the Middle East; is unsparing in his criticism, including of himself; but is also quite clear in his praise. One gets a really good picture of what worked and what didn't and why. We also get a picture of the circumstances, which is crucial to understanding why a given course of action might work in 1978 but not in 2007, or might fail at one time but succeed at another.

Perhaps the most important point Miller brings out in his book, though this is not his focus, is the role of the "Israel Lobby" in American policy-making. Miller makes clear what I, among others, have been saying for years-that the "Lobby" is certainly powerful and effective and has an impact, but decisions are not based on what it wants. Miller illustrates well the importance of citizens organizing lobbying forces promoting reasonable policies but also makes clear where the power of lobbying ends and the leadership of a president begins.
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Format: Hardcover
Part memoir, part history, part journalism, this book by a veteran Arab-Israeli peace negotiator should appeal to Mideast junkies who still believe in the "peace process."
A disclaimer: I covered many of these same events as State Dept. correspondent for Reuters from 1989-94. I was present at some of the events Miller describes; I traveled with Secretaries Baker and Christopher. I even interviewed Miller himself on background a number of times. (He seemed to enjoy chatting to reporters on background but he rarely revealed anything interesting or useful). For more about me and my latest book The Nazi Hunter: A Novelgo to [...]
This book is an uncertain mix of different genres. The personal memoir I found the most interesting. I wish there were more of these vignettes. I'm interested in the various characters Miller dealt with -- Rabin, Peres, Arafat, King Hussein, Presidents Mubarak and Assad. I'm interested in what went on behind the closed doors because I already know what emerged on the public record (I covered a lot of it). Unfortunately, Miller remains overly coy and discreet. He was never one to give much away and he apparently hasn't changed.
The history segment, in which Miller analyzes the successful Middle East negotiations conducted by Kissinger and President Carter, one can basically read about elsewhere.
The journalism -- he interviewed many of the key players, is somewhat interesting. But most of these actors have a deep interest in presenting events to their best advantage and Miller doesn't really challenge them.
His chapter of the power of the American-Jewish lobby and the fundamentalist Christian-Zionist lobby contained little new.
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Format: Hardcover
In The Much Too Promised Land, Aaron David Miller presents and blends diplomatic and political history, a personal memoir, and offers advice on the future U.S. role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Miller is unique in his ability to present personal anecdotes and experiences from the peace process and he demonstrates an intimate understanding of the complex and existential issues facing the parties. He is candid and honest, admitting his personal mistakes from his twenty-plus years in the Department of State, and also identifies the errors of those who served around him. The Much Too Promised Land is more than just a diplomatic history however, and provides a readable, accessible book that at times made this reader laugh out loud - not an easy task considering the weighty issues being discussed. The book is a must read, and the supporting website, which is complete with audio clips from many of Miller's interviews with key policymakers is also a great resource.
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Format: Paperback
An interesting look at how diplomacy actually happens on the ground, and of how politics and personalities influence the larger sweep of history. I enjoyed it but thought it was a little light on the issues -- it reminded me more of a sports bio than anything else. A lot of anecdotes and personalities, not quite enough details or nuts and bolts. He explains how key issues play out politically but the details that make these issues problems or how those details get hammered back and forth in negotiations are often given short shrift. A certain level of familiarity is assumed. If you didn't know that Abu Mazen and Mahmoud Abbas are different names for the same person you won't learn it here (even though both names are used, at least once on the same page).

The author had a front row seat for over two decades and has a lot of interesting insights into some of the big plays and major players, but if you haven't been following the game its a little too 'inside baseball'.
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