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Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East Hardcover – April 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Printing edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Wawro is a historian whose previous works have focused upon warfare in nineteenth-century Europe; viewers of the History Channel may also recognize him as the telegenic host of Hardcover History and other programs. In this book, Wawro tackles the formidable challenge of writing a comprehensive history of American involvement in the Middle East. In many ways an attempt to explain the historical genesis of the bind in which the U.S. currently finds itself, the author’s main narrative threads are the U.S.’ complicated and often conflicting relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia. All else, he suggests, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and perennial tensions with Iran, is to some extent a collateral consequence of these Israeli and Saudi allegiances. Noting many parallels between past mistakes and present challenges, this selection culminates in an earnest argument for a more coherent and historically honest foreign policy going forward. It’s an ambitious project, but Wawro’s considerable talent for seamlessly blending military, social, and political history (as well as his extensive archival elbow grease) makes it a success. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

"A keen-eyed, sweeping survey of . . . U.S. policy in the Middle East since the Balfour Declaration in 1917. . . . An excellent argument for the necessity of careful sifting of historical precedent and error."
-Kirkus Reviews

"A coherent and highly readable analysis of America's involvement in the Middle East... Whereas many books have been written about one Middle East nation or one aspect of this topic, Wawro successfully provides the big picture."
-Library Journal

"An ambitious project, but Wawro's considerable talent for seamlessly blending military, social, and political history (as well as his extensive archival elbow grease) makes it a success."
-Booklist

"A bold and comprehensive account of America's involvement in the Middle East. Quicksand cannot answer the haunting question posed by General David Petraeus during the 2003 invasion of Iraq-'Tell me how this ends?'-but Geoffrey Wawro's history does reveal how an extraordinary tale of idealism, politics, force, and miscalculation began and unfolded over the past century."
-Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn

"Wawro does a terrific job of explaining why America's Middle East policy has been so wrongheaded for so long, and how it has gotten the United States into so much trouble in recent years. Quicksand should be required reading for everyone in Washington whohas a hand in formulating policy toward the Arab and Islamic world."
-John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

"Foreign policy is a chief responsibility of any American president, yet readers of Geoff Wawro's Quicksand will be shocked by the history he describes- presidents, members of Congress, and lobbyists who consistently sacrificed statesmanship to expediency, leaving the U.S. stuck in the Middle Eastern quicksand Wawro so richly describes."
-Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

We are committing an injustice!"
ammou
Warro has written the most understandable history of U.S - Middle East relationships I have ever read.
Jack Schnabel
Wawro wrote a book that is well researched and highly entertaining.
Georges Chateau

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hosse on May 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Few topics grab my attention more than the Middle East. Civilization began there, along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, and some claim it may end there. The world's economy is fueled by the oil produced by just a handful of countries, and yet, rather than being a stable region because of global dependence on oil, it is the world's most volatile. The Middle East, the vortex of civilization, has in many ways become a black hole; dragging the nations ever closer to its center, and like a black hole, threatening to rip the world apart. Few nations have been able to long escape its grasp. So, how did America, and indeed, the rest of world's industrial nations, become ensnared the shifting sands of the Middle Eastern politics?

Few books have so expertly been able to answer that question better than Geoffrey Wawro's "Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East". Mr. Wawro, who is a Professor of Military History at the University of North Texas, as well as director the Military History Center at UNT, has been able to unravel the Byzantine world of Middle Eastern politics, woven into the cultures and religion of the people for generations, and give the reader a clear and comprehensive history.

For example, Dr. Wawo describes the blunders of the British Empire in closing years of World War I resulting from the vacuum of the collapsing Ottoman Empire and imperialist myopia which left Britain in control of areas such as the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and Palestine, while the French, seeking to maintain its shrinking empire, gained control of Syria. As a result, Arab nationalist aligned themselves with Nazi Germany (and Nazi Germany's policy of anti-Semitism didn't hurt either).
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Birch West on May 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every policymaker in Washington should be reading this book, which avoids the usual focus on crisis du jour and instead charts the spread of US power and influence in the region, from the days of Woodrow Wilson down to Barack Obama, from the Balfour Declaration to the Bush Doctrine. It's all here: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Cold War and terrorism. What I like most about the book is the way it presents each presidential administration as having had CHOICES to make -- some quite pivotal -- and most chose not to make them because they wanted to avoid roiling the Israel or Saudi lobbies. AIPAC types will NOT like this book, for its clear and strategic presentation of the facts, but they should read it anyway. The book is extremely readable, and presents quite an education in a single volume.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ramming on May 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It is deep and educational, but it is never dull. Wawro blends biography, anecdote and truly startling analysis to shed light on America's checkered progress in the Middle East. The portraits of people like Nasser, Anthony Eden, Ike, Nixon, Bush 41 and 43, LBJ, Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and the Shah are memorable and entertaining. Wawro's analysis of the wars of the region contains some pretty shocking revelations. Read this book!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Truth Insister on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geoffrey Wawro is the General Olinto Mark Barsanti Professor of Military History at the University of North Texas; he hosted many programs on the History Channel, and he taught at the US Naval War College for years. [For the reviewer "Kava" to call his scholarship disingenuous means that "Kava" never picked the book up, much less bought it. Ignore him.]

For those who don't follow the US college ratings, the US Naval War College, where Wawro taught, is second to the US Army War College and both of them rank higher than Harvard, Stanford and the like. Wawro has a PhD in History from Yale. My book arrived earlier today, and I am whipping through it. This is a tour de force, heavily footnoted, and worth every minute spent reading it. Wawro has obviously spent years researching his subject and his erudition is exemplary.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ammou on June 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geoffrey Wawro, director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas professor of history, has written an important book on US foreign policy in the Middle East. A professional historian, Wawro did his homework: he read all the relevant literature and accessed all the relevant archives.

Wawro focuses on the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and Israel. It's in his handling of the latter that he is likely to draw fire from unconditional supporters of Israel who can not accept anything less than the fact that Israel can do no wrong and is the victim of Palestinian and Arab aggressors. So this book is definitely not destined for Israel's apologists who are looking for a work to use as a propaganda tool. For those I suggest work like From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine (a hoax that provides good propaganda material) and The Case for Israel, a very good lawyer's brief, by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz.

Not that the book is a defense of the Palestinians, Wawro is not interested in taking sides he just lets the facts speak for themselves.
Wawro is likely to please neither apologists for Israel nor those of the Palestinians. I will provide some quotes from the book to make that clear:

" Life in "Israel" (...) continued much as it had for centuries. It was a largely Arab place in which a steady trickle of European Jews mixed with the several thousand Sephardim who had lived in Palestine since their removal from Spain and North Africa in the fifteen's century" p.
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