In This Review

1979: The Year That Shaped the Modern Middle East
1979: The Year That Shaped the Modern Middle East
By David W. Lesch
Westview, 2001, 188 pp.

Three events in 1979, Lesch argues, "shaped" subsequent Middle Eastern history: the advent of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After presenting the events themselves with sufficient background to make sense of them, Lesch lays out their consequences: the movement of the Arab-Israeli confrontation from an existential issue to one involving the fine details of negotiating a settlement; the Soviet collapse; and the later American and Western confrontation with Islamist terrorism. By organizing his study around this year, Lesch shows how the strategies and standings of the players in the Middle Eastern diplomatic game can change -- even while the rules of multipolarity remain.