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Power Faith and Fantasy: America In The Middle East 1776 To The Present Updated Edition Paperback – Apr 12 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (April 12 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330304
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #284,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this engaging if unbalanced survey, the author of the acclaimed Six Days of War finds continuity in U.S. relations with the Middle East from the early 19th-century war against the Barbary pirates to today's Iraq war. As America's power grew, he contends, strategic considerations became complicatedby the region's religious significance, especially to the Protestant missionaries whose interests drove U.S. policyin the 19th century and who championed a Jewish state in Palestine long before the Zionist movement took up that cause. Meanwhile, Oren notes, Americans' romantic fantasies about the Muslim world (as expressed in Mideast-themed movies) have repeatedly run aground on stubborn, squalid realities, most recently in the Iraq fiasco. Oren dwells on the pre-WWII era, when U.S.-Mideast relations were of little significance. The postwar period, when these relations were central to world affairs, gets shoehorned into 127 hasty pages, and the emphasis on continuity gives short shrift to the new and crucial role of oil in U.S. policy making. Oren's treatment views this history almost entirely through American eyes; the U.S. comes off as usually well intentioned and idealistic, if often confused and confounded by regional complexities. Oren's is a fluent, comprehensive narrative of two centuries of entanglement, but it's analytically disappointing. Photos. (Jan. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This engrossing, informative, and frequently surprising survey of U.S. involvement in the Middle East over the past 230 years is particularly timely. Oren, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and New Republic, illustrates that American interests have frequently combined elements of romanticism, religious fervency, and hardheaded power politics. In the early nineteenth century, President Jefferson, perhaps acting against his own instincts to remain aloof from the affairs of the Old World, sent the infant American navy to confront the Barbary pirates off the coast of North Africa. Like many of our future endeavors in the region, the results were a mixture of success, failure, and farce. Other episodes covered here that are particularly interesting include previously obscure American efforts to locate the source of the Nile and the efforts by American missionaries to convert vast numbers of Ottoman subjects. But Oren is at his best when describing American involvement in the twentieth century as the U.S. replaced Britain as the dominant "imperial" power in the area. Appealing to both scholars and general readers. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Audio CD
Most Americans probably think that the American involvement in the Middle East began in the last forty years or so. A few might remember that it goes back to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. In fact, as detailed on the pages of "Power, Faith, Fantasy", The Middle East has been an important theatre of American foreign policy since the foundation of the Republic. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had to deal with Barbary Pirates who molested the shipping of Christian countries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Whereas Adams followed the pattern of European countries in trying to buy protection by paying tribute, Jefferson chose a military response to free American hostages and put an end to the Mediterranean piracy. It was Jefferson's policy that compelled the re-establishment of the U.S. Navy.

Author Michael Oren does an excellent job of illustrating the various motivations that have driven American policy in the Middle East over the centuries. After the defeat of the Barbary States American interest in the Middle East was defined by Faith-based initiatives intending to restore the Jews to the Holy Land. Others established education institutions that transformed Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. By the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, kidnapping was again the cause of contention as Roosevelt demanded that "This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead." As Roosevelt's projection of American power gave way to Wilsonian idealism, this minister's son was again driven by ideals of Faith and an unwillingness to jeopardize American citizens working in the schools previously established. This unwillingness prevented a U.S. declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The lack of involvement kept the U.S.
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Format: Paperback
The book starts out slow and gradually gains velocity. Its heavy focus on the first century and a half of US history allows for story telling about many individual soldiers, missionaries, or adventurers who went to the Middle East. Then the entanglements grow more complicated, and the momentum of events builds. By the 1980s, the writing is a fairly breathless rush of momentous events. It's good to have it all flash before your eyes like this, but it's little more than a stream of headlines. Through the whole big story, Oren highlights what has been noble in America's efforts, while always including critical views. He does an excellent job of capturing America's part in the rise of Israel, and the difficult choices Americans made in response to a rising tragedy, as Jewish refugees fled from the bonfire of anti-Semitic Europe into the frying pan of an anti-colonial Middle East. As for recent conflicts, Oren seems cautious in judging his contemporaries. He seems to feel that presenting the big picture of the past will provide balance, and the present will be judged by future works of history. I would have liked to see more on America's relations with Saudi Arabia, and a greater discussion of the issues in political or military control of religious movements.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Oren's POWER, FAITH and FANTASY is an immensely researched (80 pages of notes and a 50 page bibliography) and cohesively written accound of American impact in the middle east from the beginnings of America until the present. The background research and anecdotes provide a firm footing for any interested party who wants to know how the United States and the Middle East arrived to the situations they are in today.

Most notably, Oren describes the personalities of the people involved, and reminds us through evidence and quotes, that the policies of countries (whether democracy, autocracy or other) are shaped by the sentiments, education and background of their leaders. Mr. Oren runs through not only the leaders of the Middle Eastern countries in each phase, but goes in depth on the up-bringing and cultural leanings of each U.S. President (i.e., most of them) who had influence to bear on the events in the Middle East.

The book is crafted into seven sections, roughly paralleling developments in US History: independence, before the Civil War, during the Civil War, as America becomes a power, WWI, oil and WWII, and a brief skim over the years since WWII. In each section are weaved the three themes of Faith (religeous influences, including Zionist, pro-Arab, anti-Semite, etc.), Power (US ideas of democracy vs. European Imperialism, Soviet Communism, Arab self-rule) and Fantasy (films, impressions).

I enjoyed this book because Mr. Oren presented facts, not judgements, difficult to do in history as you can make the facts say what you want. But he convincingly presents as many perspecitves to each issue as he can.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is not just a work of history, but it must rank as one of the greatest works of history in the modern era. Mr Oren's ability to combine history, religion, military, agriculture, exploration, conservationism, sociology and more is astonishing enough, but to do so in beautiful prose devoid of abstruse words is worthy of Churchill, whose Nobel prize was for literature. The work of an extordinary mind, you cannot afford not to read it. A pity that some of our politicians either ignored or disbelieved him while he was an ambassador to,the USA.
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