From Publishers Weekly
This is the ultimate insider's account of the roller-coaster ride of the Middle East peace process from 1988 to the breakdown of talks in 2001. More than anything else, Ross, the chief U.S. negotiator for Presidents Bush 41 and Clinton, has written an epic diplomat's handbook. We see the moves and countermoves on both sides, the preparation that goes into any statement or gesture, the backroom wheeling and dealing and the dance of language and meaning. Ross lays out, in painstaking detail, the "one step forward, two steps back" approach that finally led to such breakthroughs as the handshake on the White House lawn. He offers detailed accounts of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the rise and fall of Benjamin Netanyahu and a picture of Arafat "seeking to have it both ways... La-Nam (no and yes in Arabic)." Ross's critical eye paints a vivid picture of the very different characters and strategies of Arafat, Barak and Clinton, and what led to the failure at Camp David. While Ross lands in the blame-Arafat camp, he is not without criticism of Barak and Clinton. Tragically, for all those who follow this region, Ross's book does not present a hopeful picture; the litany of failures sounds like a broken record: "We left the region hopeful, but that hope was premature"; "Once again, however, our best-laid plans went awry." Sure to garner its share of controversy and media attention, this work of history in the making is essential reading for anyone interested in why we are where we are in the Middle East. Maps not seen by PW
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*Starred Review* Ross, chief Middle East peace negotiator in the presidential administrations of both George H. Bush and Bill Clinton, provides a masterful, riveting, and scrupulously fair account of a process that now seems like a noble failure. Ross tracks the slow unfolding of the "peace process" from the first tentative steps toward dialogue at the Madrid Conference to the collapse at Camp David and the descent into the ongoing violence of the second Intifada. There are wonderful insights here into the strengths and weaknesses of the numerous players in this drama, including, of course, Arafat, Peres, Barak, Assad, and more obscure but still significant figures. Ross writes eloquently and sadly of missed opportunities, and his frustration with the obstinacy and pettiness of Arafat is evident. Surprisingly, given the current level of violence, Ross concludes with an optimistic assessment of the long-term chances for peace. This is a brilliant and important insider's account that is essential reading for anyone wishing to better understand this seemingly intractable problem. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved