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Avi Shlaim's Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace is the first major account one of the most important figures in the turbulent history of the Middle East. Peace-broker, statesman, charismatic ruler and master of realpolitik, Hussein of Jordan was one of the dominant figures in Middle Eastern politics, its most continuous presence, and one of the most consistent proponents of peace with Israel. For over forty years he was at the eye of the storm in the region, constantly negotiating between the Arab world and the Israelis, guiding his country through conflict, surviving assassination attempts and trying to fulfill his lifelong quest for peace and the survival of his dynasty. This is the first major account of Hussein's remarkable dialogue across the battle lines, and of his covert meetings with Israeli leaders. Drawing on extensive archival sources and on unprecedented interviews with Hussein, his family, and confidants, it reveals a titanic leader and a courageous man. 'A thrilling, masterful biography' Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year 'The most comprehensive biography of the "plucky little king"' Anton La Guardia, Literary Review 'A nuanced portrait of Jordan's late King Hussein ...salutes Hussein's extraordinary physical and moral courage' Daily Telegraph Avi Shlaim was born in Baghdad in 1945; grew up in Israel; and received his university education at Cambridge and the LSE. His books include Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, The Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (Winner of the Political Studies Association's WJM Mackenzie Prize, 1988), War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History and The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780141017280
ISBN-10: 0141017287
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 31mm)
Pages: 736
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 27-Nov-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A comprehensive, highly readable life of the well-known but much-overlooked Middle Eastern leader.Middle Eastern politics is endlessly complex. Born in Baghdad, raised in Israel, educated in Britain and now a resident of Germany, Shlaim (International Relations, Oxford; The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, 2000, etc.) is well equipped to comprehend and convey just how tortuous its routes can be. Modern Jordan began as a British-governed bulwark against Saudi expansionism, a defense against their "pristine and puritanical brand of Islam." By the time Hussein bin Talal (1935 - 99) ascended to the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1953, his nation stood between Saudi Arabia and Iraq on one side and Israel on the other. In the greater scheme of the "Arabian Cold War" that would soon develop, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were friendly with the West, while Syria, Egypt and Iraq favored the Soviets. All were to some degree hostile to Israel, though once Jordan tasted defeat in the 1967 war - a conflict, Shlaim writes, born of "Arab overconfidence and Arab overbidding" that proved largely that the Arab states "cannot act separately and they cannot act collectively" - Hussein became increasingly committed to seeking peace, not least because so many Jordanians were now dispossessed Palestinians opposed to his rule. Regrettably, Shlaim writes, Israeli intransigence worked against peace. Hussein was constantly underestimated and shoved aside, while American diplomats such as George Shultz and Henry Kissinger and presidents from Eisenhower to Clinton viewed him as a minor character in the larger drama of world politics. Sharper attention turned to King Hussein when it appeared he was aligning Jordan with Iraq during the first Gulf War, though, Shlaim suggests, Hussein was not wrong to disdain the Kuwaiti ruling family.Hussein's legacy, Shlaim holds, is "the possibility, at least, of peace in the Middle East," toward which he contributed a share - indeed, a lion's share. A worthy biography. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Avi Shlaim

Avi Shlaim was born in Baghdad in 1945; grew up in Israel; and received his university education at Cambridge and the LSE. He is a Fellow of St. Antony's College, a member of the British Academy and a Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. Previous books include Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, The Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (Winner of the Political Studies Association's WJM Mackenzie Prize, 1988), War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History (1995) and The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2000).

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