In a brilliant narrative history full of rich character studies, Karl Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac trace today's troubles in the so-called Middle East back to the imperial overreaching of Great Britain and the United States.
"The term Middle East is a Western creation; that is appropriate, since some of the nation-states in that volatile region were cobbled together to serve the imperial and economic designs of Britain, France, and the U.S. Meyer is a foreign affairs writer for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Brysac is a journalist and formerly a producer of documentaries for CBS News. They have written a timely and engrossing study of the men and women who were instrumental in giving birth to some of the nations, institutions, and chronic problems of the area. Some of these figures, like T.E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell, are famous. Others were almost faceless civil servants and bureaucrats who effectively operated in the shadows on behalf of the interests of their nations. There is even a chapter devoted to Paul Wolfowitz, whose fantasies were influential in bringing on our current predicament in Iraq. What seems to unite these characters is a degree of imperial hubris and an appalling unwillingness to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. This is an important work."—Booklist