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Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II Hardcover – November 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584749
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584748
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gardner (Pay Any Price) finds the roots of a fractured and turbulent Middle East in American machinations in the decades following WWII. He begins with the Truman Doctrine, whose goal of Soviet containment focused American power designs in the Middle East and whose parsing of strategic interests as a global ideological struggle enabled an imperial presidency and the vast allocation of military spending—hallmarks of 21st-century American foreign policy. Rather than plodding through successive American presidencies and their attendant policies, Gardner homes in on two key events in U.S.–Middle East relations—the 1952 Egyptian revolution and the 1979 Iranian oil crisis—and keeps his readers rapt and focused on the current relevance of these episodes. He weaves together anecdotes, congressional hearings and historical accounts to illustrate how the U.S.'s carefully pursued aim of creating a sphere of influence in the Middle East has fomented the unrest in Iran, a fraught Saudi reign and the Israel-Palestine crisis. An erudite, persuasively argued and lucid primer for both the layperson and the expert. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

Since the withdrawal of British military forces after World War II, the U.S. has been the dominant outside power in the area. It is, however, debatable how and why that ascendancy evolved, and it also is unclear how much power the U.S. actually exerts to control events. In this absorbing and often provocative study, Professor Gardner asserts that this American “empire” was the result of a calculated, even cynical plan to dominate the region and its resources as British imperial power waned. Many scholars will, of course, dispute both his assumptions and conclusions. Still, this account is filled with informative and fascinating details, as American policymakers strive to deal with monarchs, Arab nationalists, and, always, Israeli-Arab hostility. Gardner’s views are hardly the final word on the topic, but they are a valuable contribution to our understanding of our still-deepening involvement in this region. --Jay Freeman

More About the Author

Lloyd C. Gardner is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University and the author and editor of more than a dozen books, including Three Kings and The Long Road to Baghdad. He lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Baesler on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lloyd Gardner is one of the major proponents of William Appleman Williams' Wisconsin school of the history of U.S. foreign relations, which sees an internal drive for expanded power, with the goal of access to markets, as the founding principle that drives America's foreign relations. He applies this thesis again in his treatment of the origins of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, beginning with FDR's post-Yalta meeting with the "three kings" of the middle east, most prominently king Saud of Saudi Arabia. He ends with Saddam Hussein's rise to power in Iraq in the late 1960s, which of course provides only one of many occasions when the text makes explicit comparisons to today's situation. For example, Gardner calls U.S. alliance policies under Truman as Dean Acheson's search for a "coalition of the willing."

Gardner sees the Truman Doctrine of 1947 as the relevant contemporary reformulation of the Open Door notes, directed not at areas already under communist control, but rather those parts of the world still accessible to U.S. power. It's no coincidence to Gardner that Turkey, the gateway from Europe to the Middle East, was one of the original targets of U.S. containment policy.

The book gives fairly detailed discussions of U.S. policies toward Egypt, Israel, Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq from Truman to Kennedy. He points out the dilemmas inherent in a policy aimed at good relations with Arab countries AND support for Israel, as well as pursuing a partnership with Britain AND supplanting the Lion as the alpha animal in the region. Fascinating is especially Gardner's treatment of U.S. ambiguity toward Nasser's Eqypt. Apparently America sincerely pursued its goal of making Egypt a major ally, but never really found a way of dealing with Nasser.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Extremely well researched, humorous and slightly cynical at times. Chock full of insight, the book let me know how our foreign policy is strictly cash (and greed) motivated. Let's face it, we kind of vote for the president but whoever assumes that office is controlled by powers no one votes for, and as citizens of the United States, we don't have any control over our foreign policy. Sad but true.
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By ollb on December 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The "three kings" are Farouk of Egypt, Ibn Saud, and Haile Selassie - the three that FDR met individually with right after Yalta. Except for brief mention of Farouk's ouster and exile, neither he nor Haile Selassie are mentioned after page 20! The subtitle - The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II - describes the book much more accurately. Covers aid to Greece/Turkey, establishment of Israel, Iranian oil and overthrow of Mossadeq, Suez war, Iraq revolution, six-day war. Not much nuts-and-bolts history, focuses much more on diplomacy, politics, and governments - which ambassador said whatever to whichever dignitary when, and such like.
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