2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 41 (90% non-fiction)

I am really starting to like the Politically Incorrect Guide series of books.  The latest one I read is The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East by Martin Sieff.  The whole theme of the book is that most everything you know about the Middle East is wrong.

Before you start thinking this is a revisionist left or right wing political explanation of why their version of the facts are the only correct ones – it is neither.  It is a non political look at the events that really happened and are happening now.

Sieff spares no one when calling out the bumblings and missteps taken by both political parties.  He lambasted George Bush’s handling of events just as vehemently as he derides Jimmy Carter’s blunders.  But it is much more than a look at the Middle East as it relates to the Middle East.

The Middle East has been a pawn in political games for years.  It has been a major player in more than just Islāmic jihad too.  From the days of the Ottoman Empire ruling over the whole region to the creation of Iraq by Winston Churchill, whose moves were at the same time inept and brilliant.  There is even some very interesting stuff about T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and how different he was in real life than Peter O’Toole‘s portrayal of him in that classic film.

If you want a better understanding of what brought the players (past and present) to power and why superpowers continue to stumble in their efforts to manage events there, you will want to read this.  I came away understanding it all a great deal more, yet realizing that there is still no secret sauce to helping things go smooth over there.

by Chris Doelle