In This Review

American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945
American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945
By Douglas Little
University of North Carolina Press, 2002, 407 pp
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Rather than a single chronological narrative, this book's chapters provide what amounts to eight different takes on the subject. One chapter addresses longstanding U.S. perceptions of the Middle East; two others treat U.S. relations with Israel; another reviews the history of America's stake in the Middle East's oil. Also covered are the many presidential doctrines concerning the Middle East, Nasser's Egypt, and Arab revolutionary nationalism; the vacillating ties with Iran, Iraq, and Libya; and "Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome: Waging Limited War from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf." It is indicative that this book opens with a citation from Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, for Little's detailed and well-documented chapters are very much in the manner of Twain, offering an ironic description of American thought and action regarding the Middle East. Not a bad thing, that.