Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Good Books

by Elliott Abrams
December 6, 2011

The annual prizes for the best books on the Middle East have just been awarded by the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy. I served as a juror and highly recommend all three winners. The announcement can be found here.

The three are:

The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and al-Qaeda
Peter L. Bergen (Free Press) (Gold Prize)

Prize Jury Commendation:
“Peter Bergen draws on years of meticulous reporting, to uncover the thinking of al-Qaeda’s top strategists and the pitched battles in Washington over U.S. policy. The ten-year war against al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, is now the longest in American history. Yet while terror groups remain a threat, Bergen’s riveting account shows how American grit thwarted al-Qaeda’s drive to become the acclaimed champion of Islamism — at a price Americans still ponder and debate.”

The Road to Fatima Gate: The Beirut Spring, the Rise of Hizbollah, and the Iranian War against Israel
Michael J. Totten (Encounter Books) (Silver Prize)

Prize Jury Commendation:
“Michael Totten’s narrative of the rise and fall of Lebanese democracy is a harrowing tale, grippingly told. It revolves around Hizballah’s brazen challenge to the Lebanese state, Lebanon’s own disastrous politics, and the ceaseless maneuvers of Israel and Syria. Totten’s storytelling is energetic and engaging, yet his analysis is always thoughtful and on-target. Lebanon’s present sad chapter hasn’t ended; this book is the finest introduction to the turmoil yet to come.”

Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Contemporary Saudi Arabia
Stéphane Lacroix (Harvard University Press) (Bronze Prize)

Prize Jury Commendation:
“The terra incognita of Saudi Islam is explored in a scholarly way for the first time by Stéphane Lacroix. Drawing on interviews with Islamists who rarely give them, and on hard-to-find texts, Lacroix goes beyond post-9/11 generalizations, to paint a complex landscape of the struggle over the role of Islam in the Saudi kingdom. This unique and deeply informed work is bound to influence America’s own sharp debate about Saudi Arabia’s relation to Islamism, in the kingdom and beyond it.”



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