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Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East Hardcover – April 1, 2010
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 2.45 pounds
- Hardcover : 720 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1594202419
- ISBN-13 : 978-1594202414
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.5 x 10 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2010)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,036,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I recommend this book as a follow on to "A Peace to End All Peace" by David Fromkin. The two books together give the reader a strong understanding of the modern Middle East.
A final disclaimer. I was two years ahead of Professor Wawro in high school, which means I would have paid absolutely no attention to him back then. I had no contact with him since then until I read his book and sent him an email telling him how much I enjoyed his book.
Wawro focuses on the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and Israel. It's in his handling of the latter that he is likely to draw fire from unconditional supporters of Israel who can not accept anything less than the fact that Israel can do no wrong and is the victim of Palestinian and Arab aggressors. So this book is definitely not destined for Israel's apologists who are looking for a work to use as a propaganda tool. For those I suggest work like From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine (a hoax that provides good propaganda material) and The Case for Israel , a very good lawyer's brief, by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz.
Not that the book is a defense of the Palestinians, Wawro is not interested in taking sides he just lets the facts speak for themselves.
Wawro is likely to please neither apologists for Israel nor those of the Palestinians. I will provide some quotes from the book to make that clear:
" Life in "Israel" (...) continued much as it had for centuries. It was a largely Arab place in which a steady trickle of European Jews mixed with the several thousand Sephardim who had lived in Palestine since their removal from Spain and North Africa in the fifteen's century" p.19
"But there are Arabs in Palestine!" Herzl's early collaborator and ally Max Nordau had famously expostulated. "I did not know that! We are committing an injustice!" Other Zionists had no such qualms: "Outside Palestine," Ahad Ha'am wrote in 1891, "we are accustomed to believe that the Arabs are all wild beasts of the desert, a people akin to jackasses who do not know what is going on around them" p. 19
"Although Herzl had cautioned Zionists "to expropriate gently..., discreetly and circumspectly," his followers took a harder line" p. 19
"Turkey's decision to ally with Germany against Russia, France and Britain in WWI nearly extinguished Zionism (...) the Turks in 1914 began expelling Russian Jews from Palestine (...) Palestine's Turkish military governor, closed Zionist newspapers (...) voided Jewish land titles and incited Arabs to raid Jewish farms and shops" p.21
"Arab nationalists despised the Jewish national home" p.31
"Though there were half as many Jews as Arabs in Palestine -623,000 Jews vs 1.3 million Arabs-The Jews nevertheless received the bulk of Palestine from the UN" p 100.
"In Haifa Arab demonstrators rallied to "throw the Jews into the sea" before they could "take our land"" p.103
"The Jews publicly praised the partition, but secretly plotted to seize all of Palestine" p. 103
"South of Bethlehem, four Jewish settlements were surrounded and wiped out by the Jordanians , who accepted the surrender of the settlers and then slaughtered them in cold blood, screaming "kill the Jews"" p. 104
"in each attack" Prime Minister Ben Gurion told his commanders bluntly , it's necessary to give a decisive blow, ruin the place, kick away the inhabitants" p 106
"The Arabs planned to destroy Israel" p. 110
These quotes should be enough to show that author is not interested in taking sides he just goes where the facts take him.
Overall this an excellent book both informative and entertaining. For anyone who wants to understands US involvement in the Middle East this is the book to read.I can't recommend it highly enough.
For those who don't follow the US college ratings, the US Naval War College, where Wawro taught, is second to the US Army War College and both of them rank higher than Harvard, Stanford and the like. Wawro has a PhD in History from Yale. My book arrived earlier today, and I am whipping through it. This is a tour de force, heavily footnoted, and worth every minute spent reading it. Wawro has obviously spent years researching his subject and his erudition is exemplary.