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Blending history, reportage and sharp profiles of key players, this insightful study tells how American "Arabists"--diplomats, intelligence agents, scholar-adventurers, Protestant missionaries, military attaches--formed an elitist, expatriate professional caste in the 19th-century Middle East. The Arabists, in Kaplan's ( Balkan Ghosts ) view, carried on a "romance" with exotic Islamic cultures, and many supported pan-Arab nationalism. Blind to what Kaplan deems the inevitability of the birth of Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust, American Arabists today often see Israel "in only the simplest stereotype," he asserts. Kaplan charges that Arabists adapted to and promoted the Bush administration's appeasement of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as exemplified by U.S. ambassador April Glaspie's wooing of Saddam right up to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Occupational hazards facing the latest crop of Arabists, warns Kaplan, include rampant shallowness, careerism and an insular, sterile embassy life divorced from local realities.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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June 29, 1995
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