For all its importance as the Middle East’s keystone—the stone in the otherwise unsteady edifice that secures the other stones in place—Jordan does not get much attention. As Riedel shows, this is in part because many of its neighbors resent being held in place at all and have been eyeing the small desert territory covetously ever since its establishment in the 1920s. At various times, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Syria have claimed part or all of the kingdom’s territory as their own or as the rightful home of Palestine, whose people make up a majority of the country’s citizens. Riedel draws on his decades of experience in the CIA to lend color to his rehearsal of U.S. policy toward a monarchy that has served as a usually reliable ally, an occasionally useful scapegoat, and a consistent source of good and unheeded advice. Riedel’s genial account is sometimes surprisingly credulous; characterizing Jordan’s dependence on the United States as an “enduring friendship” seems charitable to all concerned, but he evidently enjoyed his own special relationships with the Hashemite kings, and this book is an appreciative salute.