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The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace Hardcover – August 9, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 872 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (August 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374199736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374199739
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,243,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*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 Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Omer Belsky on July 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are two quips by former Israeli Foreign Secretary Abba Eben, that seem appropriate to reflect upon whenever one discusses the Israeli-Arab attempts at peace negotiations "The Arabs" Mr. Eben had famously said "Never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity". The Israeli government, on the other hand "only does the right thing after having exhausted every other possibility"*

"The Missing Peace" is the frustrating but illuminating memoir of Dennis Ross, the Chief American negotiator in the Israeli-Arab peace process. Ross's book is an exhaustive record of Ross's schedule: No meeting is too trivial to recount, no quarrel too tiresome to include, no thought too minor to mention.

Ross's focus is squarely on the Israeli- Arab negotiations, and specifically the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian meetings (with the Jordanians guest starring for one chapter, and the Egyptians, Saudis and Moroccans making sporadic appearances). If you are looking for a comprehensive treatment of Israeli-Arab relationships, or the Peace Process in the 1990s, look elsewhere: This is squarely about the meetings, negotiations, and tactics. Worst still, because the US had only a limited role in the Oslo accords, the very start of the historic process between Israelis and the Palestinian Liberation Organization is under reported.

In his conclusion, Ross concedes that "negotiations do not take place in a vacuum" and that the broader picture, and the Israeli and Palestinian publics have to be considered. But Ross's book fails to include them; We get astonishingly little about some of the major players in this drama: Israeli Refusniks, Palestinian Militants, and Oslo Skeptics generally.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John K on April 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have only read a few books on the Middle East and one other on the peace process being "Waging Peace" by Itamar Rabinovich. Dennis Ross is committed to the Midele East peace process. It is very clear that he has been at the "coal face", the one who has guided the key players in their neogotations. The book is a fantastic insight into what went on behind the scenes that were played out in the international media. Apart from a blow-by-blow description that would appeal to any history student focused on the Palesinian-Israeli peace process, there are a number of reasons why anybody vaguely interested in this subject would enjoy this book: (1) It is a thriller! The expression "truth stranger than fiction" tales on true meaning as this book is like a "cannot put down" suspense novel. (2) The story of the peace process is recorded in great detail (3) Ross gives us hope that somewhere in the distant future the Palestinian-Israel issue can be resolved. Anybody reading this book will learn a great deal about what the truth is in the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy. I loved this book and read most of it, certainly 550 out of 800 pages, over the Easter weekend. This is a great book and is written in elegant style. Read the Publishers' Week and Washington Post reviews but buy this book even if it is from Amazon Marketplace, It is a "must have" and a gripping, cannot put down book to read
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44 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Hussain Abdul-Hussain on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dennis Ross is certainly an authority on the story of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. His book offers a historic background of this conflict, the version of each party and the diplomacy buildup that sometimes led to breakthroughs in peacemaking and in other times reached the brink of peace but later stalled.

The book is unnecessarily long (872 pages), but is entertaining as it includes anecdotal details and some other less important details about how Ross boarded planes and took showers prior to his meetings.

The book also sheds light on how, on several occasions, arrogance, pride, prejudice, electoral considerations and pulling diplomatic stunts to muster further support of followers have always affected peace negotiations.

It also shows that terrorists and other anti-peace factions succeeded in so many instances in delaying peaceful efforts and in other instances completely sabotaged them.

Ross has been a witness of the diplomatic effort between Israelis and Arabs, which was interrupted in 2000. His book is certainly a reference document for all those interested in taking a deeper look into the Middle East conflict and international attempts at resolving it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lumpus on June 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is comprehensive, to be sure, and that's the problem. Ross' presentation is so detailed and so specific that I had trouble seeing the forest for the trees. Too frequently, he offers the most superficial and irrelevant details. For example one footnote explains that a friend brought him snacks in preparation for the sessions at the Wye River Plantation. Thanks, Mr. Ross: I really understand Middle East negotiations now: it's all about the snacks and who brings them. Unfortunately, he generally fails to tie it all together in a coherent summary, except for a very short analysis at the end of the entire tome of 800+ pages.

The book focuses heavily on negotiating tactics and personalities, but offers precious little of the big picture. I would strongly recommend that Mr. Ross engage the services of a top-quality editor, to eliminate the trivial, and to illuminate the long-term patterns, and large-scale issues emerging from the period in question.
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