A World Of Trouble

America In The Middle East

Patrick Tyler

Published: 15 October 2009
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 656 pages
ISBN: 9781846270215


Drawing on three decades of first-hand experience both close to the circle of power in Washington and on the ground in the Middle East, Patrick Tyler will show how the region has emerged as the focus of American national interests, a battleground and occupation zone for 150,000 American troops, and a fount of global terrorism. A World of Trouble begins with the rise of the new secular nationalism among the Arabs and Nixon's entry into the Middle East, and takes in the fluctuating oil market, relations with the Saudi royal family, the Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran, the Iran-Iraq war, the spread of Islamic fervour through the region and the waves of violence that have followed. At each point, Tyler examines the motivation behind US policy decisions, from attempts to limit Soviet expansion to the slippery compromises made in pursuit of oil.

About the author

Image of Patrick Tyler

Patrick Tyler has spent 30 years as a journalist, dividing his time between Washington, and tours in the Middle East, China, Russia and Europe. He worked for the Washington Post for 12 years, thenfor the New York Times for 14 years, leaving it in 2005 to write books full-time. He was succesively Moscow Bureau Chief, Beijing Bureau Chief and London Bureau Chief. As chief correspondent for the New York Times he reported from Baghdad in the lead up to the first Gulf War and covered the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 2003. His book A Great Wall, Six Presidents and China won the 1999 Lionel Gelber Prize for best book on international relations and the Helen Bernstein Prize awarded by the New York Public Library. More about the author


‘[An] impressively thorough account of the ways in which successive US presidents have contributed to the crises that have convulsed the Middle East. ... With a good journalist's eye for episodes that sum up a much bigger story, Tyler is able to evoke not only the atmosphere of particular historical moments, but also the sometimes surreal subplots that have shaped US policy in the Middle East ... It provides valuable insight into the workings of the presidential power and the ways in which a series of poorly thought-out polices have determined Washington's dealings with the region’ Charles Tripp



A World of Trouble is a timely history of American policy in the Middle East ... It is meticulously researched, highly intelligent, sensitive and accurate. ... What Tyler manages to do brilliantly is show to what degree American Policy in this vital region has been characterised by inconsistency, short-termism, whimsy and, crucially, domestic concerns ... One hopes that A World of Trouble will help some future American administrators avoid the same traps of ahistorical analysis’ Jason Burke

‘A dramatic, revealing and intimate reappraisal of the great firestorms of America's history in the Middle East’

‘All the great rivalries and unlikely collaborations are brought vividly back to life in A World of Trouble ... [A] comprehensive work’

‘An ambitious panorama of 10 American presidents' involvement in the Middle East ... Given its vast scope, Tyler is impressively sensitive to human detail’ Heather McRobie

‘In taking us inside the White House through decades of tumult in the Middle East, Patrick Tyler brilliantly sheds light on both the history of the presidency and the long, tragic story of the place so many Americans think of as the Holy Land. This is a terrific, important book’ Jon Meacham, editor of NEWSWEEK

‘In the rush to get books on to the president's bedside table, Patrick Tyler's account of how Obama's predecessors and their advisers not only missed their chances but made things worse ... deserves to be on the top of the pile. It is an anthology of cautionary tales for a new president ... The great virtue of Tyler's book is that it is so relentlessly personal ... a formidable charge sheet against the occupants of the White House over the last half century which is, in its page-by-page human detail, as gripping as it is depressing’ Martin Woollacott

‘Patrick Tyler presents a fair picture of the period of American hegemony ... The main strength is Tyler's deep knowledge of American political culture and personalities, and his clinical analysis of American actions’ Oliver Miles

‘Rich in irony and incident, Patrick Tyler's history of the White House and the Middle East would make instructive reading for the latest occupant of the Oval Office ... this brisk, engaging book is a plea for "tolerance and accommodation" in American foreign policy ... a lucid and even-handed introduction to a deeply contentious subject’ Dominic Sandbrook

‘Rich in irony and incident, this history of the White House and the Middle East would make instructive reading for the latest occupant of the Oval Office ... a lucid and even-handed introduction to a contentious subject’ Dominic Sandbrook

‘This encapsulates better than any other book on the subject how the US has moved from being one of the most powerful forces in the world to being derided almost everywhere’ Partick Vaughan

‘This must-read book documents the dynamic, often contradictory positions the US government adopted toward Middle East issues. While history not political solutions is the subject of Tyler's work, the book reveals the need for a radical re-orientation of US aims’ Martha Kramer

‘Tyler goes back to the time of President Dwight D Eisenhower to show how America's actions in the Middle East have subtly changed, and what part diplomacy has played. He focuses on some of the key turning points that have not always made the news reports, illustrating how they have defined various presidencies and up to and including George W. Bush and his "Axis of Evil". Tyler picks his moments well and agues his case with conviction’

‘Tyler has a very attractive style of prose which flows with eye-catching immediacy ... With a biblical sense of both terrain and politics, Tyler exposes the reality of every major event in the region over 60 years’ Colin Gardener

‘Tyler has given us a magisterial sweep of Middle East history since the second World War, painting a bold and colourful panorama of the violence, cruelty, and mistrust that are endemic in the region, and of the cumulative muddle that is American foreign policy in that area’ Bill McSweeney

‘Tyler is well able to convey a sense of place and time and offers some sharp pen portraits of the key personalities’ Lawrence Freedman

‘Tyler not only draws on numerous interviews with well-connected players of varying repute, but he also exhibits an impressive command of the voluminous literature about the US role in the politics of the Middle East since the 1950s. The picture that emerges is not pretty. Tyler's narrative reminds us that the Middle East has been an inhospitable region, if not a graveyard, for presidential diplomacy whether practised by Democrats or Republicans’ Sanford D. Horwitt

‘Tyler pains a convincing, if bleak, overall picture of America's impact on the region. He enlivens his book immensely with some very well-written pieces of personal reportage from the region, and tells some great White House anecdotes that linger in the mind long after you close the book. Illuminating and very readable’

‘Tyler's history of American presidents' relationship with the Middle East features just about as unpleasant a cast of characters as you could ever hope to assemble in one place. Alarming and illuminating’

‘Tyler's real triumph is the reporterly detail gleaned from his research and travels in the area. His description of the aftermath of the Iraqi gas attack at Halabja is chilling, especially in the light of the fact that US officials had previously assisted Saddam with his war planning. ... As Obama consider his next moves in the Middle East ... he might consider this history of his predecessors' failures to be required reading’ Peter Beaumont

‘Tyler's well-researched volume draws heavily on declassified and hard-to-find government documents to give an insider's view of high-level diplomatic meetings and communications between US presidents and other top officials [...] and leaders. Tyler's work is often revealing ... a must-read book’

‘With his reporter's instinct for telling detail, Tyler offers a history that makes for enlightening, if depressing, reading. A superb, even-handed account of America's role in a continuing tragedy’

‘Written from three decades of experience as a frontline reporter, Tyler's history of the White House's involvement in the Middle East is level-headed and relevant’

‘Written in a vivid style full of anecdotes and conversations drawn from eye-witness accounts, this book offers an accessible tone and a behind-the-scenes feel’ Robert Murphy

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