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MARCH 2016


What makes this book special is that so many of its contributors

really are able to get inside what is going on in the Muslim

Middle East, the so-called Arab “street.”

the story of the protests lies in the daily

lives of merchants, workers, professionals

and farmers examined in this book, the

editors note.

The introduction also provides the

needed broader context for the book’s

contents, covering Middle Eastern

Muslim culture, the historical context

of Middle Eastern life, and Islam and

politics, as well as who the Islamists are.

In addition, the authors discuss Middle

Eastern responses to U.S. policy, remind-

ing us that two issues, Palestine and Iraq,

“crystallize opposition to U.S. policy.”

“The question of the future of Pal-

estine and the rights of Palestinians in

the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza

remain the single largest area of concern

for Middle Easterners,” they state, point-

ing to a study indicating that opposition

to foreign military intervention is “the

single largest cause of suicide bombings

throughout the Middle East.”

In sum, this book provides excellent

insights into the base of society in the

MuslimMiddle East. And, as the edi-

tors point out, “We need to listen more,

especially now, to the voices of Middle

Eastern peoples in all their different

social, political and economic circum-

stances and orientations, to understand

their aspirations and frustration.”

For those serving in one of our

“fortress” embassies in the Middle East,

where getting to know those beyond the

elite is difficult, this book should be a



After receiving a master’s degree from the

Harvard Center for Middle East Studies,

Stephen Buck served at eight Arab posts dur-

ing 39 years in the Foreign Service. He is a

longtime member of the FSJ Editorial Board.