In This Review

Middle East Crisis: U.S. Decision-Making in 1958, 1970, and 1973
Middle East Crisis: U.S. Decision-Making in 1958, 1970, and 1973
By Alan Dowty
University of California Press, 1985, 416 pp

Following the same path of intensive research on American policy decisions evident in the work of William Quandt, Steven Spiegel (above) and others, Alan Dowty concentrates on three separate episodes, one in the Eisenhower-Dulles period and two in that of Nixon and Kissinger. Not content with providing step-by-step accounts of the course of these particular crises, the author looks into the generic problem of governmental conduct in situations of crisis, testing his conclusions about each crisis, and on patterns common to all three, against a formidable array of hypotheses on "coping mechanisms," dimensions of choice and so on. That part of the enterprise is complex, at times overly mechanical, but generally stimulating and useful for understanding both past and future crises; it is not merely airy theorizing, as Dowty stays in close touch with the solid body of fact brought out in his narrative.