While previous studies on America’s involvement in the Middle East focused on specific periods, regions, and topics, this book provides the reader with a detailed history of the complete involvement of America since it gained independence in the whole Middle East and North Africa. Despite the fact that the book is very detailed, heavily annotated, and based on numerous archival sources and publications, it is highly readable, written in a rich, descriptive language. In his examination Oren focuses on the three main elements in American involvement in the Middle East: power, faith, and fantasy and their influence on one another. Thus, in addition to examining the pursuit of American interests in the region, Oren checks how religion shaped American attitudes toward the region and what the perceptions of the Middle East were in the American imagination. We also learn how this involvement shaped America: for example, how the conflict with the Barbary States influenced the constitution and the establishment of the US Navy. Based on sound scholarship, this is an important contribution to American and Middle Eastern studies, and of great value to specialists and the general public alike. Bibliography, illustrations, index, maps, notes.
Rachel Simon, a librarian at Princeton University, does research on Jews in the modern Middle East and North Africa, with special reference to Libya, Ottoman Empire, women, and education.