Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present” as Want to Read:
Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,625 ratings  ·  248 reviews
This best-selling history is the first fully comprehensive history of America’s involvement in the Middle East from George Washington to George W. Bush. As Niall Ferguson writes, “If you think America’s entanglement in the Middle East began with Roosevelt and Truman, Michael Oren’s deeply researched and brilliantly written history will be a revelation to you, as it was to ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 832 pages
Published January 16th 2007 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Barack Obama
Once again I find myself giving Michael Oren five stars and warning people away from his book. Five stars for a thoroughly researched and highly informative read, to be sure. But expect a pretty long slog.

This ambitious tome describes the interactions between the United States and the Middle East from the point of the United States' inception, starting with the Barbary Wars. Oren uses the themes of power (the U.S. wanted control, initially in terms of wanting to pass through the region safe from
Saadiq Wolford
Michael Oren must be a horrible lay. I say this because only a horrible lay could take a subject as rife with passion and controversy as America's involvement in the Middle East and make it a mind-numbingly dull read.

Furthermore, while the book's subtitle is "America in the Middle East from 1776 to the Present", Oren only spends the last 20% of the book discussing the last 70 years of history (the period in which I was most interested), stating outright that he did so because there are many othe
Mar 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
A very superficial, one-sided and biased "analysis" of the United States involvement in the middle-east. The motivation of the middle-eastern people's resistance to the U.S.'s attempts to exploit the region are never explored. Instead, the native people of the middle east are presented as savages that are intent on conflicting with the United-States for no particular reason, with the United-States motives being portrayed as an altruistic superpower intent on enlightening the world, which is extr ...more
عمر الحمادي
كتاب تاريخي دسم ومشوق جداً في تاريخ علاقة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية بمنطقة الشرق الأوسط خلال القرون الثلاثة الماضية.

من الطرافة التاريخية أن ملك المغرب في عام ١٧٨٦ أجبر الكونجرس الأمريكي على أن يطلب من "جيفرسون" أن يتفاوض معه تجنباً للحرب والغارات البحرية على السفن الأمريكية في البحر المتوسط، ليكون أول ملك في العالم يعترف باستقلال الولايات المتحدة وأول زعيم مسلم يوقع معاهدة رسمية مع الجمهوية الناشئة، واضطر الأمريكان إلى دفع إتاوة إلى تونس والجزائر من أجل تأمين سفنهم.

استمد الأمريكان تصورهم عن سحر
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Few fields have been as well plowed as that of Middle East studies. Indeed, the ever expanding shelf in the bookstore on the topic groans under the weight of a torrent of new works, many which might be charitably described as derivative of already existing work. What a thrill then when a new book appears covering otherwise undisturbed ground!

Michael Oren's excellent "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present" is such a book. Instead of covering familiar subjects
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since my conversion to Islam more than a decade ago, I am wont to approach any book of this subject matter and scope with skepticism. While the author Michael B. Oren certainly has the credentials for this, he is also Israel's current ambassador to the United States.

The section of the book that deals with the nascent United States of the 18th century up to the influences of the then-major world powers in the first half of the 20th century seem unassailably objective. I honestly expected Mr. Oren
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well-written and well-researched.

However, the book's main weakness is that it doesn't cover the era of the 20th century to today very well. Oren excuses himself by saying that plenty of works already exist on the subject, and only writes as much as is needed. Arguably, this is the section most readers will be interested in the most, and it, while decent, fails to deliver. And besides, the stories of American romantics and adventurers got repetitive and boring after a while, and you start to ask
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I am giving this 3 stars solely based on the amount of information included. Here is why it doesn't get a better rating.

The book starts with the very interesting Barbary Wars when the United States was brand new. It discusses the impacts that the pirates from Northern Africa had on the formation of our Navy and foreign policy.

After that there is 200 pages of discussion on missionaries and the schools and hospitals they built. This is also somewhat interesting, but I don't think so many of the di
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics, war
Everything we all need to know about our relationship with the Middle East (if you happen to be American). Crucial reading in these times.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mideast
A rather old-fashioned book. A series of picaresque narratives of Americans doing American things in strange foreign lands. The natives don't get a serious treatment. Not worth reading on anything after 1948 -- the last hundred 0r so pages of the book -- but amusing and readable on everything before that.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of nonfiction
I have had this book on my to-read list for a long, long, long time (almost 7 years). But due to the length of the book and the density of the subject matter (not to mention my aversion to history books that have bored me to tears in the past), I just never seemed to want to read it. I even checked out the book once or twice, but ended up returning it before I got around to it.

But I've really taken to listening to audiobooks in the car during my daily commute. Some drives are longer than others
This is an immensely fascinating study of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations starting in 1776 and roughly ending in 2006-2007. Oren not only writes passionately and convincingly about U.S. military and diplomatic interactions with the region, but also about the humanitarian and missionary work that private citizens did in the region, which had a far greater impact upon U.S. relations in the Middle East pre-1914 than one might think. I especially find it ironic that the Zionist movement and Arabian Na ...more
Paula  Obermeier McCarty
This was a fascinating book! Here are just a few thoughts I had about this incredible book:

1. I was appalled by the Armenian massacres. It was disturbing that the Turks were focused on genocide and their killing methods seemed to be a chilling precursor to the Jewish Holocaust. (such as Armenians packed into railroad boxcars and deported to execution sites). As an ally of Turkey during the First World War, Germany would have known of these things. They also would have witnessed the rest of the w
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, middle-east
Innocence Abroad

A superb overview of American involvement in the Middle East from the start of the Republic up to the year of publication (2007). In severing its ties with Great Britain, revolutionary America lost British protection in the Mediterranean from Barbary pirate states situated on the North African coast who preyed on ships, confiscated their cargo and enslaved and ransomed their crews. Failing to obtain the protection of France and other European partners, America acquiesced to the E
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Overall, this is a book worth reading. A bit of a slog at times, finishing it became a matter of perseverance rather than interest. Given the overwhelming amount of detail, as well as a contrived personality sketch of seemingly every possible character that has been involved in U.S.-Middle East relations, I doubt how much information I’ll actually retain. However, I did leave the book with a much broader perspective of the historical connections between the regions, and there are definitely some ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
This book could have included more analysis.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This well-researched, well-organized, well-written book by Michael Oren is essential reading for any American who wants to more fully understand the history of U. S. interactions in the Middle East. American involvement in that region of the world, as with most regions, has been complicated throughout our history as a nation, to put it mildly. We have always had a hard time "choosing sides," as it were, because it has been genuinely difficult to tell what the sides are. This is especially true t ...more
Shirin Abdel Rahman
كاتب امريكى مرموق إلا ان صهيونته قضت على حياديته، فمن اول فصل و هو يتمعن في التركيز على نقائض العرب و بربريتهم و يجعل منها صفات اصيلة في شخصيتهم نتيجة لدينهم المتعصب.
فعرب شمال إفريقيا همج و بربر و يتاخذون من البيض عبيد و قراصنة، العثمانيون همج ماديون و يضطهدون الأقليات مع التركيز على ما يدعى مذابح الأرمن دون الأخذ في الاعتبار خيانة الأقليات للاتراك في الحرب العالمية الاولى، فهو يدافع عن الأرمن طول الخط.
تخرج من الكتاب بعدة نقاط :
1- عكس الإنجليز و الفرنسيس الأمريكان يؤمنون بالتبشير بدينهم أما عن ط
Gordon Larsen
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm giving this three stars not because it's mediocre but because it was really hard to get through. Even though it's a huge book (28 hours of audio) it takes on a massive topic—America's involvement in the Middle East for the past 230 years (it was published in 2007). That means that by necessity it jumps very quickly from event to event and person to person, so I quickly lost track of who fit into which events. Still, the topic is an important one on which the author, Michael Oren, is a very c ...more
Paul Wilner
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly well-researched, remarkably (to me) even-handed work from an author whose writings have sometimes stirred controversy. The section on the recent series of catastrophes was least successful, since they are overwhelming and (at the moment) seemingly irresoluble. The colonial history is well done, and there are great tidbits about John Steinbeck's missionary grandfather, Little Egypt at the Chicago World's Fair, Norman Schwarzkopf's father and John Foster Dulles, whom Churchill called "Du ...more
David  Eastman
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Michael B. Oren does a fantastic job of condensing what deserves several volumes of history into some six-hundred pages. His retelling of the history is compelling and well-researched, and most important of all, fair. Oren brings to life characters nearly forgotten from American memory and reshapes some of the recent news that we watched on television. This book will enlighten you to a region that may currently hide behind a dark cloud of animosity - whether that region for you is the Middle Eas ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an impressively accessible introduction to the clusterf*ck that is the US's relationship with the Middle East. It stops early into the 2000s, so I wish there was a later edition where I could learn more. But this is an excellent entry into what is undoubtedly the defining international relationship of our time. Not exactly pleasure reading (though not necessarily hard work, either) but I definitely felt better educated on this topic once I'd finished this book.
Stephen Coates
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Following the War of Independence, US ships, without the protection previously provided by the Royal Navy, were frequently captured by the fiefdoms in North Africa with their crews held for ransom, ransoms which were consuming an increasing proportion of the fledgling country's federal budget. In 1788, then future US presidents Jefferson and Adams asked the Tripoli ambassador in London about the attacks, noting that the USA had (then) never had a quarrel with the Moslem world, the ambassador rep ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Very comprehensive look at America's involvement in the Middle East. Barbary wars to early 2000''s a lot to take in...found the early years the most fascinating.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
power the book is fantastic
Kevin Christiansen
A solid primer on America's presence in the Middle East.
Brian Katz
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent read. Gave me a great understanding of how Modern Israel became a state.
Robert Morris
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well that went off the rails quickly. I very much enjoyed the majority of this book. The last 100 pages or so were a complete waste of time.

I realized after I had bought the book that the author, Michael Oren, was the Israeli Ambassador to the US between 2009 and 2013. Going to an actual political actor for historical perspective is generally not such a great idea. Best to stick to their memoirs, a set of which I believe Oren has recently published. But for the majority of the book, I think Ore
Hussain Alshamlawi
رائع ومميز ومشوق
"كما أنه يبرهن على أنك لا تستطيع أن تفهم قضية ما حق الفهم حتى تعرف تاريخها"
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Covers US involvement in the Middle East starting with George Washington through George W Bush.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
History of the relationship between the USA and the Middle East 1 26 Jan 04, 2009 08:55AM  
  • Yom Kippur War
  • Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace
  • The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square (Council on Foreign Relations (Oxford))
  • 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War
  • The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future
  • War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism
  • A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-1962
  • The Modern Middle East: A History
  • Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East
  • A History of the Modern Middle East
  • Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East
  • The Middle East
  • The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace
  • The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East
  • From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776
  • Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century
  • What's Really Wrong With The Middle East
  • The Arabs: A History
Michael B. Oren (Hebrew: מיכאל אורן; born Michael Scott Bornstein on May 20, 1955) is an American-born Israeli historian, author, politician, former ambassador to the United States (2009–2013), and current member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party and the Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office.

Oren has written books, articles, and essays on Middle Eastern history, and is the
“an “ominous” figure suggestive of “pestilence and war.” 0 likes
“unfeeling tyrants” who cared no more for their subjects’ lives “than…so many caterpillars upon an apple tree.” 0 likes
More quotes…