In This Review

Asad: The Struggle For The Middle East
Asad: The Struggle For The Middle East
By Patrick Seale
University of California Press, 1989, 552 pp

More than a biography, Patrick Seale's work constitutes a running account of Syrian domestic and foreign affairs (with the accent on the latter) over the past three decades. Because his knowledge of the subject is unmatched among Western experts, and because there is much to tell that was previously not or not completely known, the book should have a wide reading. It is "not an official biography," although the most important of its sources are the author's many conversations with Assad over the years. It is sympathetic in the sense that it presents the Syrian leader largely in his own terms, as a patriot and a defender of Arab rights and interests, seeking to correct widely accepted versions of events put out by those (such as Henry Kissinger and Anwar Sadat) who opposed, deceived or betrayed him; and if he engaged in terrorism and dirty tricks, that is an accepted extension of diplomacy in the Middle East.