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The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy Paperback – May 15, 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“To anyone who really wants to understand the irrational complexities of the Middle East, Mr. Pipes's groundbreaking analysis is must reading.” ―The Washington Times

“...a thoughtful book.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“...an essential addition...because of its special focus on conspiracy theory as it influences the political thinking of an important region in the world.” ―MELA Notes

About the Author

Daniel Pipes is Editor of The Middle East Quarterly and Senior Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of nine books and the editor of one.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312176880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312176884
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,698,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Is it proper to discuss the popular beliefs of a group of people? Of course it is. Some groups of people are very superstitious. Some are more mystical than others. And some groups dwell on conspiracy theories to a surprising extent.

Pipes is right to being up this topic. He simply had so many experiences in which he heard some baffling conspiracy theories from otherwise intelligent people that he decided to look into the matter.

The author points out that all these conspiracy theories lead to Arab misunderstanding of the world around them. That's not good for anyone. In addition, they have enabled plenty of snooty feelings of superiority among Westerners, some of whom arrogantly see Arabs as inferior just because they act the way Westerners themselves behaved a few decades ago.

Pipes gives some examples of the conspiracy mentality. He shows how Nasser used it to misanalyze the Egyptian defeat in the Six Day War of 1967. And how others used it to tell fantastic stories about Israeli plans to acquire a rather large Empire, including not merely nearby cities such as Beirut, Damascus, El Arish, and Amman, but faraway ones such as Baghdad or Medina.

This attitude has led to a surprising evaluation of Zionism. That is, I can see being very angry with the government or policies of some nation. But I am surprised that anyone would find fault with the idea of a nation. Zionism is simply a philosophy of human rights for everyone, including Jews. Some Zionists may be good, and some may be bad. But Pipes shows that to many Arab conspiracy mentalities, Zionism itself is ominous and threatening. So much so that they are often in fear of their own compatriots being secret agents for Zionism (whatever that may mean)!
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Format: Hardcover
During a recent hitchhiking journey through the Middle East, I was shocked by how often the locals claimed the West was wholly subservient by the Jews and out to get pious Muslims. When I told people I had come from Finland, a country very much on the periphery of religiously diverse Europe, the inevitable response was, "You know Finland is controlled by Israel, right?" I saw the Protocols of the Elders of Zion openly sold in street bookstalls. Wishing to understand this absurd kind of thinking, I picked up Daniel Pipes' THE HIDDEN HAND: MIDDLE EAST FEARS OF CONSPIRACY. Though published in 1998, before a great deal of major recent events, the book is still fairly timely in describing and explaining the troubling attitudes I encountered.

Pipes gives three case studies of conspiracism in the Middle East that were prevalent before the book's publication. The first is the idea that Israel wishes to establish a "Greater Israel" reaching from Egypt to the Euphrates. Pipes cites appearances of this libel in the popular press of the region and in the statements of various autocrats. The second case study is the Islamic Revolution of Iran. Here we see that conspiracism is by no means limited to fundamentalist Muslims, but even secular authorities like the Shah saw conspiracies lurking everything. The last case study is the conflict between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s, where even matters such as the Rushdie affair were ascribed to a conspiracy against Khomeini.

Pipes points out that conspiracism is a fairly recent phenomenon in the Middle East, and prior to the 19th century the peoples of the region were not so prone to seeking out shadowy motivations behind all bad things. He argues that the rise in conspiracism is multiford.
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Format: Hardcover
Dan Pipes is trenchant, witty and insightful as always. Pipes is one of my favorite authors in this field. The only other I would rank in the "first tier" with Pipes is Bernard Lewis. Dr. Pipes does a wonderful job analyzing the psychological forces at work in the Muslim world. His academic articles are of similar quality. I would recommend readers look for his journal articles and consider joining The Middle East Forum so that they can receive his Philly-based journal Middle East Quarterly.

Only other author with a recent book out (late last year) that I think deals with some of the same psychological phenomena (in one early chapter) is Anthony Dennis in his book "The Rise of the Islamic Empire and the Threat to the West," although Dennis deals mostly with the potential of political Islam to provide the basis for unification throughout the region. Dennis does deal brilliantly, albeit somewhat peripherally, with the 'mindset' and conspiratorial world view of some prominent Arab and Muslim leaders. For example, he mentions some of Qhaddafhi's bizarre behavior and bragging which I think trods some of the same ground as Pipes does.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Daniel Pipes grasps the character of the Middle Eastern mind; his true expertise in this field is evident in all the pages, and is up to par with his other informative books. I would recommend this book to anyone who is studying the Middle East, or is simply interested in knowing more about this volatile region of the world.
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By A Customer on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in Middle East policies, politics, and general viewpoints would be wise to read this book. It goes a long way in explaining the backgound positions which pertain to the Palestinian-Isaeli conflict, the events of September 11, the Gulf War, etc. A fascinating and in-depth insight into the attitudes which shape the governments of the region.
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