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Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465011179
  • ASIN: B003P2VBXA
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,609,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perry (A Fire of Zion) offers a stylistically fascinating history of post 9/11 American intervention in the Middle East that unearths the secret meetings between U.S. Armed Forces and insurgents and terrorist organizations. Perry describes the excruciating process led by dedicated American and Iraqi officials to open lines of communication between the American military and Iraqi insurgents, a decision born out of the painful realization that America's leadership had miscast the enemy in Iraq and that what was lacking was not more troops to kill terrorists [but] marines to talk to them. Perry reassesses conventional wisdom regarding Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah and points out the essential differences between the two nationalist organizations and al-Qaeda, their trans-national nihilistic counterpart, calling into question the American and Israeli tendency to conflate all Islamic political movements as implacable enemies with nothing to say. In the penultimate chapter, Perry weaves a lyrical narrative of memories and impressions from 20 years spent in and out of the Middle East. He contributes a worthy commentary on contemporary Middle Eastern history and a valuable argument for communication between America and her enemies. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the summer of 2004, anxious to avoid another Fallujah fiasco, officers of the Third Civil Affairs Group, First Marine Expeditionary Force, put together a plan to cool tensions in al-Anbar province by jump-starting the region’s economic development. It was a simple plan: Sunni leaders from al-Anbar would be introduced to businesspeople and agriculturalists from outside Iraq; the soft power of capitalism would do its work, and block-by-block military maneuvers would be unnecessary. To be successful, however, the plan required that a small group of high-ranking marines cut a deal with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency—a clear contravention of the Bush administration’s stated opposition to talking to terrorists. Examining missed opportunities in al-Anbar as well as certain other instances in which the U.S. has pursued covert diplomatic engagement with foes in the Middle East, this book tells an all-too-familiar story about political territoriality and the disconnect between policy makers and the personnel on the ground. The solution, urges Perry, is a rejection of unhelpful rhetoric and a recognition that pragmatism has its place in defusing terror. --Brendan Driscoll

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Max on May 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Perry's analysis of the interactions between the groups the Western world has labeled "terrorist" and both the civilian population of their respective countries and the Middle East actors is very much welcome. He is very convincing in his argument against the generalization and the way the U.S. and Europe put label on organizations they do not fully support to oppose them on ideological grounds. He paints a picture of the situation that is not widely seen in European and American media of sane, pragmatic leaders with the welfare of the local populations as one of their principal goals. He also argues that understanding and working with Hamas, Hezbollah and the Sunni Sadamist of Iraq is not only the right thing to do but is necessary if the United States wants to both ensure peace and help its interests in the region. The chapter on Israel is also very interesting although at times I felt he criticized Israeli actions a bit too freely, which potentially undermined his argument and left him vulnerable to attacks from pro-Israel and or Islamophobe organizations.

Overall a very important and interesting read that I recommend.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hargus on June 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
I too have issue with some of the cause-and-effect conclusions made in the book. I too was there and worked many of these issues at the strategic level, and I do not think the conclusions made are correct. More so, attempting some of the strategies discussed is likely dangerous. The fact is, there are people who are willing to use extreme violence to reach their ends and those ends start with local control and expand from there. We (the US) forget that at our peril.

That said, any informed book that adds to the conversation is of value and worth reading the opposing perspective. As always, don't take the author's "facts" as facts until you're informed by the other perspectives. The world is seldom black and white ... it's both ... it's gray. C
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Treeman on August 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unusal topic, but exactly on target. Good research on a difficult topic, and very well done. Important history that few will know - but very important.
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7 of 20 people found the following review helpful By William Garrison Jr. VINE VOICE on November 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with Its Enemies" by Mark Perry (2010). A review by Michael Rubin in the Fall 2011 "Middle East Quarterly" found much to fault in Perry's book. From some of Rubin's comments: "Perry contends that it was dialogue rather than the military surge that ultimately ended Iraq's civil war. "The real gamble in Iraq did not actually take place in Iraq," Perry argues, it "took place in Amman" where U.S. officials engaged Sunni insurgents. The assumption that these talks occurred in a vacuum is a consistent flaw throughout the book. To argue that military pressure does not affect terrorists' decision-making is to deny reality.... Not only are Perry's arguments weak but so too is his grasp of facts. He embraces Internet-circulated conspiracy theories about U.S. decision-making, misrepresents officials' positions, and presents hearsay as dialogue. ... He can counsel appeasement to end terror campaigns, but he never considers the impact on those whom terrorists oppose. For example, empowering Sunni rule in Iraq would likely have led to far bloodier backlash among the majority Shiite population. Nor should sacrificing Israel--or any democracy--to autocratic, Islamist terrorists ever be a viable policy option."
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tribuni on May 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A story that raises an important question. What would it mean if....and why....
It happened.
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