A detailed, painstakingly researched study of the efforts of U.S. ambassador Philip Habib to arrest the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, lift the Israeli siege of Beirut, and get Yasir Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization safely out. Boykin frames his narrative as a confrontation between an American career diplomat, who had to work with a vague mandate and weak backing from Washington, and Israeli General Ariel Sharon, who misled his own government concerning his ambitions. Readers familiar with today's Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a sense of deja vu as the author tracks Sharon's modus operandi, Arafat's beleaguered tactics, and America's hesitant stance. They should find Boykin's presentation of Habib in heroic terms convincing, but they may also wryly sense the limitations of individual diplomatic performance when it is not anchored to a coherent foreign policy.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.