Castles Made of Sand: A Century of Anglo-American Espionage and Intervention in the Middle East

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9780312355692: Castles Made of Sand: A Century of Anglo-American Espionage and Intervention in the Middle East
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"Extensively researched―with detailed source notes and an expansive bibliography―and cogently argued, Gerolymatos's study of diplomacy by espionage is timely and instructive." - Publishers Weekly

With roots in imperialism and the nineteenth-century mindset of the "Great Game," Western nations have waged an intricate spy game this past century to establish control over the Middle East, secure access to key resources and regions of commerce, and prevent the spread of Soviet communism into the region. From the Suez Canal to the former Ottoman Empire, British and American intelligence communities have conspired to topple regimes and initiate Muslim leaders as pawns in a geopolitical chess game fought against Marxist expansion.

Yet while the Iron Curtain was doomed to fall near the end of the twentieth century, this pattern of tunnel vision has created a different monster. The resulting resurgence of Muslim radicalism, and the induction of Arabs and other Muslims into the dark arts of espionage and sabotage, have only served to fan the flames in an already incendiary region and deepen the tensions between the Middle East and the West today.

An authority on international studies and the history of guerilla warfare, André Gerolymatos offers the contemporary reader insight into the intelligence game that is still waged internationally with lethal intent, and into the Middle Eastern terrorist networks that had evolved over the decades. In this definitive account of covert operations in the Middle East, the author brings to life the extraordinary men and women whose successes and failures have shaped relations, and he reveals how the explosive nature of the region today has direct roots in the history of American and Western intervention.

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About the Author:

ANDRÉ GEROLYMATOS is a member of the Department of History at Simon Fraser University, a former lecturer at McGill University, and a member of Canada's Advisory Council on National Security. His previous books include Red Acropolis, Black Terror and The Balkan Wars.

From Publishers Weekly:

Gerolymatos (Red Acropolis), a historian at Simon Fraser University, explores the problematic nexus of British and U.S. espionage and diplomacy in the Middle East in this provocative history. Surveying a century of Anglo-American efforts to secure political and economic interests in the region--primarily through the spy craft of Britain's MI6 and America's CIA--the author finds a dismal pattern of policy "held hostage by ephemeral notions and self-delusion." Following the collapse of the Ottoman caliphate after WWI, first the British and later the Americans sought security by "supporting Islamic militancy--including such groups as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-- as a counterweight to nationalism and later communism." If the policies were ad hoc, the results were often unintended. Anglo-American support for Islamic extremists inadvertently "stimulated forces that... ultimately spun out of control." The Soviet Union was defeated, but "the new threat to the Middle East would be seen to be the rapidly expanding influence of political Islam." Extensively researched--with detailed source notes and an expansive bibliography--and cogently argued, Gerolymatos's study of diplomacy by espionage is timely and instructive.
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