Greater Syria: The History Of An Ambition

In This Review

Greater Syria: The History Of An Ambition

By Daniel Pipes
Oxford, 1990
272 pp. $29.95

The author overstates the case in calling Pan-Syrianism "possibly the most disregarded topic of Middle East history in the 20th century," and in finding it to be a dominant factor in the politics of the region. However, he has written a superior book, tracing the impact of the idea on the region's tortured history since World War I, from the ambitions and machinations of Faisal and Abdullah to those of Hafez al-Assad. Above all, the theme is relevant to Syria's adventures in Lebanon; less so for the fate of "southern Syria" (Jordan and Palestine). The idea and the ambition lose force because, as Pipes himself notes, "there is no Greater Syrian nation." There is still an often troublesome "lesser Syrian" state.

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