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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,541 Ratings  ·  242 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)
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Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Barack Obama
Shelves: israel
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
Shelves: palestine, algeria
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
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Ghada Arafat
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
A very good book for Arabs to read to understand why they are perceived the way they are by the American public. For non arabs be carefull it has good information but it cannot be counted as a fair book.
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
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
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.
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"
Joseph Stieb
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A brilliant book that even well-versed students of US-ME history will find interesting and new. I thought this book might be a brief overview of relations up to WWII and then a more in-depth look at the well-treaded post-WWII history, but it was actually the opposite. Oren shows a rich and deep set of entanglements that have had unexpected influences on both sides' histories. The first half of the book gets you to about 1900, and it's full of fascinating themes and subjects: missionaries, Americ ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am scandalised to find myself compelled to report that this book actually made me feel more kindly disposed to the USA. Very balanced, except in the closing section covering post-1948 events, it does not varnish US involvement in the Middle East but it makes very clear that its motives and those of its citizens prior to the fall of the European empires were not uniformly reprehensible, and were sometimes honourable. Certainly more so than the European empires, and often more so than those of M ...more
Juergen John Roscher
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read_2011
Listened to this book on CD

When I saw the title of this book “Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present” by Michael Oren, I felt this book would help me understand the current issues in the Middle East and the United States role. Even with all of the news and problems with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and the conflict between Israel and Palestinian people, I felt that I knew very little about the region, their culture, and their beliefs. Therefore, I thought this book
D. Denise
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
I often find historical and/or archeological books to be written either in a condescending style or in such a dry, scholarly tome that I am disinclined to finish them. Michael Oren’s book, however, is written with a comfortable authority, in style that kept me engaged from beginning to end. The history is fascinating. The content puts into context much what we currently see happening in and to Iran. I feel I came away from the book with some idea of Iran’s perspective as well as a deeper underst ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
This book attempts to discuss the American government's involvement in the Middle East since 1776. With such a broad subject, of course it's going to be a bit shallow. While I commend the author on his effort, I found it to be disorganized at times, a bit overly simplistic at others, and downright confusing at still other times.

Oren jumps around in the timeline, introducing historical figures decades before he plans to discuss them, often hinting at decades to come before returning to the curre
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History of the relationship between the USA and the Middle East 1 26 Jan 04, 2009 08:55AM  
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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
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“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
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