Matthew Huber, Lifeblood

Matthew Huber, Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom and the Forces of Capital (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

“The American way of life” — is there another phrase that sounds so innocuous yet is so fraught? To most Americans, and admirers of the United States abroad, the four words evoke naught but virtue, the “values” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that make the United States the envy of the world, for better and for worse. To critics fond of scare quotes, the term is more likely to mean runaway consumption, particularly as regards car culture, and blissful (or even willful) ignorance of the perils.

Three Pawns in the “Great Game”

Hugh Wilford, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York: Basic Books, 2013).

Middle East scholars have long been aware of the CIA’s power and swagger in the region, yet their studies rarely mention the Agency beyond passing references, and the CIA’s role in events is seldom the primary focus of academic works. There are several reasons for this lacuna, not the least of which are the methodological obstacles to studying secret activity.

Mikhail, Water on Sand

Alan Mikhail, ed., Water on Sand: Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

This fascinating volume provides an excellent overview of how environmental perspectives can enrich Middle East studies, thanks to contributions from leading scholars in the fields of global environmental and Middle East history. Chapters range in time from the medieval to the contemporary periods and in space from the French and Ottoman empires to the borderlands of the Eurasian steppe.

Paradise Now’s Understated Power

Lori Allen 01.15.2006

Joining Ang Lee, director of the gay cowboy epic Brokeback Mountain, among the winners at the January 16 Golden Globes award ceremony was the director Hany Abu-Assad, a Palestinian born in Israel whose Paradise Now took home the prize for best foreign language film. While critics of all persuasions remark upon what Brokeback Mountain’s victory means about Hollywood and American mores, it is perhaps more remarkable that Paradise Now, a film about two Palestinians recruited to carry out suicide bombings, was deemed unremarkable enough to be honored by Hollywood.

Masoud

A participant’s memoir reveals sordid inner details about the Iranian anti-Islamic Republic Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which continues to attract the attention of regime-change advocates in Washington.

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