Book Reviews

Beach Reading

Summer 2019

If you think of beach reading as fluffy romance novels with a margarita on the side, these books are not for you. But if you think of beach reading as an opportunity to slow down, learn something, and examine your beliefs without social media interruptions, you’re in luck. Here are four books for your vacation […]

“A Love Song to Capitalism”

Spring 2019

Economics was dubbed “the dismal science” by historian Thomas Carlyle not, as some think, regarding Thomas Malthus’s bleak view of a future balance of population and resources. It was, rather, Carlyle’s belief that slavery was a more moral institution than the free market for slaves and people of color. He was calling John Stuart Mill’s […]

“There is No New Thing Under the Sun”

Winter 2019

This is a book about past wars. No, it’s a book about present wars. No, actually, it’s a book about future wars. Or it’s a book about your imagination.  Every War Must End by the late Fred Charles Iklé is a book for considering war – this one, that one, and the one we haven’t […]

Where Feminism Failed

Fall 2018

Sex matters. Really. It does. Sex matters.  But Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love and Common Sense by Mona Charen is not exactly about sex. Really. It’s not. OK, it is about sexes, two of them, and their differences—and differences matter. It is also about culture—and culture matters. But mostly, it […]

“Widespread Self-Righteousness”

Summer 2018

What happened to the Europe Americans loved to love? Ancient and modern, “like us” but not too much, clean, good food, low-crime, democratic, and friendly. Was it ever so? Was that view from Sorrento a scrim to cover something much less inviting? Was the post-WWII period just an interlude in a longer history that, while […]

An Author with a Mission

Spring 2018

Simon Sebag-Montefiore brings impeccable credentials to the monumental task of writing Jerusalem: The Biography. A history Ph.D. from Cambridge, he has been a banker and a foreign correspondent reporting on, among other events, the fall of the Soviet Union. He is also the great-great-nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore, the international financier who was an extraordinary philanthropist, […]

Planning to Win

Winter 2018

Some things are just too unpleasant to contemplate, too far in the future, or too complicated to demand attention. Or too scary. Or conflict with other things we know – or think we know. A North Korean nuclear attack on an American island would be one of those. An Iranian attack on Israel would be […]

The Invention of Russia: Putin’s Rise & Fake News

Fall 2017

Books should generally be read as stand-alone. Read them, learn something, and move on. The Invention of Russia by Arkady Ostrovsky, however, cannot be read alone, because as useful as it is, it is enormously (though not quite fatally) limited by the absence of the Soviet Jewry movement and American government policy in the narrative […]

Save Yourself

Summer 2017

Shall We Wake the President, by former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Tevi Troy, subtitles itself Two Centuries of Disaster Management. The title is a bit of a fraud. Yes, examples of presidential leadership or lack thereof are highlighted across the chapters. President Lyndon Johnson’s reaction to the Watts riots, President George W. […]

A Peace to End All Peace

Spring 2017

This year marks the half-century anniversary of the 1967 war against Israel that shattered Arab hopes for an immediate annihilation of the Jewish state. But Israel’s stunning military victory on the battlefield did not bring peace to that historically contested birthplace of the Abrahamic faiths. Snatching a diplomatic victory from the jaws of his ignominious […]

Justice, Glory, Gold and Vengeance

Winter 2017

Read Ike’s Gamble twice – once as history and once as metaphor. The temptation is to insert “Obama” for “Eisenhower” and read on, but if you do, you will miss Michael Doran’s fascinating look at the general-turned-president and the politics of the time in which he served. Retrospectively, Americans tend to think of the mid-1950s […]

When ‘Never Again’ Doesn’t Mean Never Again

Fall 2016

“Never Again” is a pledge of Jewish defiance; Israel is the embodiment. If one is an optimist, “Never Again” is a way for the European community to verbalize that it understood the magnitude of its crimes. But Rwanda is proof – if proof is needed – that the world still contains a lethal mix of […]

Building the Post-war

Summer 2016

If you think World War II ended in 1945, Harry & Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg and the Partnership that Created the Free World is a book for you. Taking readers through the politically, economically, socially, and militarily difficult wars that continued after VE Day, Harry & Arthur is also a well-crafted, sympathetic look at a time […]

Water in Israel: Never Waste a Good Opportunity

Spring 2016

This book will make you cry. Or stamp your feet or beat your head against a wall. The narrative is familiar. Israel, a (once) poor country in the middle of an arid space, surrounded by enemies, finds a way to make the desert bloom. Then, Israel finds a way to extend what it learned about […]

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror

Winter 2016

After 9/11, Americans learned a lot about the Arab/Muslim world: the divide between Sunnis and Shiites; secular and religious – including the secular anti-Assad rebels and the religious jihadists in Syria; Arabs and Persians; and nationalists and pan-Arabs. We learned that President Bush created ISIS by invading Iraq and that President Obama created ISIS by […]

Balkan Ghosts

Fall 2015

How Do You Divide Up the Past? Why go back and read a book whose locus is outside the Middle East/Persian Gulf region and written before most of the current crises were crises? Because politicians have treated the disintegration of borders in the Middle East and the bloodcurdling advance of ISIS as previously unseen phenomena, […]

The Hundred-Year Marathon

Summer 2015

China’s Context and America’s You want to root for a book written as a mea culpa for forty years of government service in which the author provided what he now considers bad advice. You particularly want to root for it when it provides something of a corrective for that advice. And even more when it […]

Making David into Goliath

“Sticks and Stones” Friends and supporters are pleased when pro-Israel information appears in the press or social media. They spread it around and hope it will take some of the edge off the growing swamp of nasty charges and commentary about Israel as an “apartheid” state, or a criminal enterprise, or even a Nazi-like regime. […]

The End of Greatness

Winter 2015

Grading Presidents “Whether one agrees with his conclusions or not…” “I doubt many readers will agree with all of his arguments – I don’t…” “You may disagree with him at times, as I did…” That’s three out of the four book jacket blurbs on Aaron David Miller’s new book, The End of Greatness: Why America […]

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan

Fall 2014

Ending the Cold War Without A Bang Who won the Cold War? It’s not a question that arises about World War II, the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War. But when the Cold War, communism, and the Soviet Union disappeared without a shot, pundits had a free hand theorizing precisely which act by which […]

The Impossible State

Summer 2014

What America Never Sees Perhaps with the withdrawal of American focus from the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and South America, what remains is for the international community to focus on North Korea. With a few exceptions—notably Claudia Rosett of FDD, and AEI’s John Bolton—North Korea has been largely ignored until recently, showing up mainly as […]

War Front to Store Front

Spring 2014

One Slice of the Iraq War Americans, by a fairly wide margin, tell pollsters that the Iraq war “wasn’t worth it.” This reflects, perhaps, an isolationist sentiment and desire to ignore a divisive and painful episode—a public more interested in “cocooning” than in foreign policy. The public can turn away and does. Policymakers and analysts, […]

Implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for America

Winter 2014

It takes a certain chutzpah to write a book that announces something will—or won’t—happen, and that if it does or does not happen the world will look considerably different than it does today—or not. This is not like predicting snow for Thursday. But Ilan Berman’s Implosion: The End of Russia and What it Means for […]

Top Secret America

Fall 2013

Fear of Terrorism Versus the Loss of Freedom Exploding expenditures. Indefinite expansion of the Department of Defense. An unprecedented fear of an enemy that could strike anywhere, anytime without warning. These are no longer the results of two embattled superpowers waging a Cold War. This is the rise of the new American security state. This […]

Hitlerland

Summer 2013

History is Only Inevitable in Retrospect Asking readers not to think about World War II in a book about the rise of Hitler is a tall order. But if you can read the public and private correspondence of American diplomats and journalists in Berlin between the wars as they were written—as contemporaneous commentary—Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland […]

Saturday People, Sunday People

Spring 2013

Two Books and an Agenda The Western temptation to view the Middle East and North Africa as part of the “Muslim World,” of which the “Arab World” is a subset, makes politics simpler but does a disservice to what has historically been a multi-cultural, religious, and ethnic region. It also provides cover for the systematic […]

Obama and the Middle East

Fall 2012

Four Years of Idealism It has been a bumpy road in the Middle East during the course of Barack Obama’s term in office. Nearly two years ago the Arab uprisings began in Tunisia and spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, in some cases tossing decades-old dictatorships aside. A year ago America’s war in […]

IBM and the Holocaust

If you think you’ve read enough Holocaust-related literature, and if you think there isn’t anything left that can upset you, buy IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black. It is at many levels terrible, filthy, and disgusting (other than the author, there is only one hero in the whole 592 pages), but it is an […]

The Pasdaran

Summer 2012

Wanted: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards As the U.S. and its Western allies ramped-up sanctions against Iran in recent years, one group in particular was targeted: the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami). Commonly referred to in the U.S. as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Sepah (army), or Pasdaran […]

Rock the Casbah

Winter 2011

Walk With Caution, Washington Mobs of people hit the streets of the Middle East and remained there through the last day of 2011—the year that may go down in history as the most profound for the Arab World since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1924. And no one knows exactly what to make […]

The Road to Fatima Gate

Fall 2011

To the Arab Spring, Lessons from Lebanon In the battle between Israel, the Arab states, and Iran, Lebanon’s Fatima Gate has become the front-line. The gate, once a border crossing between Lebanon and Israel, is today padlocked; it has been closed since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 after years of holding the area as […]

The Politics of Change in Palestine

Fall 2011

Change in ‘Palestine’? While not much has changed in the status of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1993, facts on the ground have. From the destruction caused by the second intifada from 2000-04 to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005; from Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the first Palestinian elections held in over ten years to Hamas’s […]

Palestine Betrayed

Winter 2010

Palestine’s Self-Inflicted Catastrophe When it comes to the birth of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian narrative has become the most widely repeated version of events: After World War I, Jews began immigrating to areas within Britain’s Mandate of Palestine with the Zionist dream of building a Jewish state. Jewish immigration dramatically increased at the end […]

Winning the Long War

Winter 2010

Retaking the Offensive Against Radical Islam Three years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the “9/11 Commission,” famously concluded that the most important failure leading up to the attacks was “one of imagination…. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of […]

The Israel Test

The Business of Zionism The modern State of Israel has been many things to many people over the years. A century ago, it was merely a Zionist dream. In 1948, it became the homeland for Jewish people and an inspiration for Jews around the world. Concurrently, however, Israel also became the object of hatred for […]

Hamas vs. Fatah

Autumn 2009

In the nearly seventeen years since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, radical Islamic terror and failed Middle East peace processes have claimed the lives of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians. Ironically, one of the greatest casualties of this conflict has been diplomatic creativity. Today, a common view in Western capitals is that the […]

Winning the Long War

US President Barack Obama is now offering dangerous regimes an “outstretched hand” in the hopes they will “unclench” their fists. He seeks to shut down the maximum security prison holding hardened terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In an attempt to mend fences with the Muslim world, Obama even called America “one of the largest Muslim […]

Hamas vs. Fatah

Summer 2009

The Palestinian world is not united. Jonathan Schanzer’s new book, Hamas v. Fatah, proves this beyond any reasonable doubt. Schanzer explores the depth of the history and the elevated degrees of tension which evolved into an internal struggle between the religious revolutionary extremist Hamas party and the mainstream Fatah movement which was created by Yasser […]

Transforming America’s Israel Lobby

Fleshler vs. Fleshler “A liberal,” wrote the great American poet Robert Frost, “is someone who can’t take his own side in an argument.” Dan Fleshler, a self-described Jewish liberal, can’t take his side or the other side in his new book, Transforming America’s Israel Lobby. The book is a rambling, largely incoherent and often competing […]

The Truth About Syria

Spring 2009

Forty years ago, in assessing the foreign policy direction of the regime of Hafez Assad in Damascus, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency concluded that “[t]he question in regard to Syria’s future… is not whether it will be moderate or radical, but what will be the kind and intensity of its radicalism.” Four decades later, the […]

The Al-Qaeda Reader

Spring 2009

Raymond Ibrahim, an Arabic language specialist at the Library of Congress at the time he wrote The Al Qaeda Reader, has compiled in this book a collection of screeds by al-Qaeda’s top figureheads, Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, that reveal in full the deranged world-view that drives the global Islamist terrorist network. Ibrahim’s translations […]

We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land

Unwelcome Back Carter Jimmy Carter does not apologize for the historically inaccurate and inappropriate use of the word “apartheid” to describe the security wall that has effectively prevented Hamas suicide bombers from killing and maiming Israelis in restaurants and discotheques. He does not acknowledge that it has saved countless lives. But this should come as […]

Hamas vs. Fatah

As a new American administration takes office promising renewal of the Middle East ‘peace process,’ and Israel looks to national elections in February 2009, the Palestinians have no real government at all. Bitterly divided between their internal factions, Hamas and Fatah, they maul each other with a savagery that mocks the world’s hopes for a […]

Innocence Abroad

The Battle For Peace What happens when a new US president makes Middle East diplomacy his top foreign policy objective? Former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, a key player in the failed bid for Middle East peace in the 1990s, takes us back to the future to find out. Innocent Abroad is a page-turner. […]

The Devil We Know

The Devil We Still Don’t Know Iran is waging bloody proxy wars throughout the Middle East. The fighting in the Gaza Strip was only the latest example. Yet, a former CIA officer is calling for the US to “take its medicine and sit down at the negotiating table with Iran” and to treat the Islamic […]

Hamas vs. Fatah

Jonathan Schanzer’s new book, “Hamas Vs. Fatah,” is an account of the infighting of the Palestinian people, something that the mainstream media generally ignores. His book is detailed, easy to read and incredibly informative. Mr. Schanzer sets out to tell the news behind the headlines and to explain why a peace agreement with Israel has […]

Icon of Evil

Hitler’s ‘Grossmufti von Jerusalem’ For the better part of a century, violence against Jews has arguably been the top export of the Palestinian people. True, they have olives and citrus, but ask any man on the street what the Palestinians are best known for, and you are likely to hear “suicide bombings” or “rockets.” While […]

Two Hamas Books

Fall 2008

Within months of the stunning electoral victory that heralded the rise of Hamas atop the Palestinian Authority, two known apologists for the Islamist, terrorist organization brought forth strikingly similar sympathetic histories of Hamas. Both chronicle Hamas’ meteoric rise from a splinter of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987 to a successful political party in 2006. Both […]

Palestinians Between Nationalism and Islam

The Palestinian Gambit The Palestinians are at war. But their war is not only against Israel. The two most prominent Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, continue to battle on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. But the war does not end there. There is also a war for the soul of the Palestinian […]

Shackled Warrior

A Map for the Road Not Taken It is often said that either you are an idealist or a realist. Indeed, these two worldviews almost always clash. But Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, an American-Israeli with strong Zionist convictions, somehow embraces both with vigor. This has helped her produce consistently compelling commentary that […]

The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State

The Fall Of Noah Feldman Determined to prove that Islamic law (Shari’a) is compatible with democracy, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman is still laboring to fit a square peg into a round hole. Five years ago, I reviewed Feldman’s After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy in The Jerusalem Post and concluded that […]

Beyond Al-Qaeda

Defeating al-Qaeda will require more than a military strategy that attacks the core the group’s top leaders. Even if the military were to eliminate Usama bin Laden and Ayman az-Zawahiri tomorrow, the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization would continue to wreak havoc. Al-Qaeda can do this because it can rely on a large peripheral network […]

World War IV

The Domestic Front “Norman Podhoretz’s new book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, is a hate-filled, anti-American book of the first order,” wrote former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer on the website antiwar.com. According to Scheuer, who has become a poster child for criticism of the neoconservative movement, “Podhoretz hates every American who does […]

The Terrorist Watch

PROVING A NEGATIVE Honoring Those Who Prevented Another 9/11 If you like Michael Moore movies, don’t buy Ronald Kessler’s newest book. It does not heap scorn upon President George W. Bush. It does not inspire panic over “spy programs” that trample Americans’ civil liberties. Nor does it sneer at American patriotism. Kessler’s book celebrates the […]

Statecraft

In his new book, Dennis Ross, former US special envoy to the Middle East under president Bill Clinton and point man for the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, asserts that statecraft “has been missing” in America’s foreign policy in recent years. Ross defines statecraft as the strategic use of “every asset or military, diplomatic, […]

The War of Ideas

A New Weapon in the Arsenal In The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy, Professor Walid Phares’ historical perspective on the growth of the modern jihadist ideology and its offensive against the West, America may have found a new weapon in the war for hearts and minds against radical Islam. This book has the potential […]

Hezbollah

Here we go again: yet another American “scholar” who apologizes for an Islamist terrorist group that exists first and foremost to murder, maim and destroy. With Hezbollah: A Short History, Augustus Richard Norton, a Boston University professor of international relations and anthropology, has joined the ranks of dozens of US academics who inexplicably teach the […]

The Truth About Syria

Middle East Corleones Which Middle Eastern country is like a Mafia family with a seat at the United Nations? It might seem like there could be multiple answers but there’s really only one: Syria. Now we have “The Truth about Syria,” by Barry Rubin, to explain how the ruling Assad family is not only a […]

The Fight for Jerusalem

Jeruslaem of (Dore) Gold Jerusalem has long been a lightning rod for conflict among the three monotheistic faiths. For thousands of years, its wheat-colored dust has been drenched with the blood of loyal defenders of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Wearing the hats of historian, archeologist, theologian and political analyst – and wearing them well – […]

Global Financial Warriors

Freezing Terror What was the first strike against terrorism following the attacks of 9/11? If your answer relates to the U.S. military response to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, think again. According to former Undersecretary of the Treasury John Taylor, the “first shot in the global War on Terror” happened just two weeks after 9/11 when […]

The Savage Wars of Peace

August & September 2002

The Unlikely Imperialists The transformation over the past decade of the intellectual framework in which U.S. power and influence are understood by some of our leading thinkers has been nothing short of astonishing. Shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, for example, Yale’s Professor Paul Kennedy was warning against American “imperial overstretch” in his […]