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The Handshake and After

John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1974, 616, Price Not Stated

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

For outright complexity and inconstancy, the politics and rivalries of the Middle East have few equals. They affect extra-regional and global developments. The diplomatic conse-quences of post-1945 decolonization in the Arab world, the deepening involvement of the superpowers in the area and in the succession of Arab-Israeli wars, the activist policies and tenacity of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, and the heightened western concern over Middle East oil have all contributed to the ‘discovery’ of the Middle East by specialists on Soviet affairs. The book under review should prove useful for introducing students to the twists-and-turns that are endemic to the subject. A documentary compi­lation of impressive scope and judicious selectivity, it treats the unfolding of Soviet policies in the Mid­dle East in a fashion that should also attract the attention of the specialist. Professor Ro’i has brought together 116 documents, speeches, communiques, and commentaries that touch on all the key crises and developments of the 1945 to 1973 period: the post-war settlement; the Iranian and Palestinian questions; Stalin’s ten­tative thrusts against Turkey and Iran; the evolution of Soviet perceptions of Arab world developments and the versatile responses of Khrushchev to diplo­matic opportunities; the crises of 1956, 1958 and 1961; Soviet reactions to Egyptian-Iraqi feuding, the Yemeni civil war, and changing Turkish and Iranian policies; and, of course, the June 1967 and October 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The usefulness of the materials—most of which are Russian and Arabic in origin—is greatly en­hanced by Dr. Ro’i’s background essays. Each selection is introduced with a concise essay, which places it in historical and political perspective, and concludes with some bibliographical suggestions. The essays often contain important new information for example, that about Armenian immigration to the USSR after 1945 and the Khrushchev-Sadat altercation in 1961 which helps, in part, to explain the deterioration in Soviet-Egyptian relations that set in after the October war. The final product is a valuable chronological presentation in which key trends are interwoven with primary materials to guide the reader through the Middle East maze and leave him with a sound feel for Soviet aims, policies, and attitudes. There are very few minor shortcomings: the communiques are not complete and the bibliographies are often too brief. No matter. This book will handsomely service the needs of those who desire a handy, accurate reference work. It is certainly the best documentary compilation availa­ble on Soviet-Middle East relations.   Alvin Z. Rubinstein ...

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