Synopses & Reviews
They were three of the most memorable figures of the twentieth century: David Ben-Gurion, Israel's indomitable founding father; Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, the charismatic Arab nationalist; and the young and dynamic John F. Kennedy. Now Warren Bass illuminates these three extraordinary men and their diplomatic struggles at the height of the Cold War, offering stunning new insights into the origins of today's Middle East.
The Kennedy period, Bass writes, was no "mere place-marker between Suez and the Six Day War, between the martial frostiness of Dwight Eisenhower and the Texas warmth of Lyndon Johnson." He shows how Kennedy sought greater influence in the Arab world, offering more foreign aid and a new diplomatic overture to Nasser, the Arab world's leading radical. For a while, Kennedy and Nasser engaged in a rich personal correspondence. But the rapprochement was cut short by Nasser's impulsive intervention in Yemen's civil war, which led Kennedy to deploy fighter jets in Saudi Arabia as a warning to Egypt. Meanwhile, Kennedy made the first major U.S. arms sale to Israel, providing it with advanced Hawk anti-aircraft missiles--a crucial policy shift that marks the origins of America's alliance with the Jewish state. But Kennedy also feared that Israel would get the bomb and demanded that Ben-Gurion open his secret nuclear reactor to U.S. inspectors, leading to a grave confrontation. Ultimately, Israel agreed to inspections--but continued its nuclear weapons program under the cover of intense secrecy.
Drawing on meticulous research, Warren Bass paints a fresh, elegant portrait of the pivotal presidency that helped create the modern Middle East.
At the Cold War's height, John F. Kennedy set precedents that continue to shape America's encounter with the Middle East. Kennedy was the first president to make a major arms sale to Israel, the only president to push hard to deny Israel the atomic bomb, and the last president to reach out to the greatest champion of Arab nationalism, Egyptian President Jamal Abdul Nasser. Now Warren Bass takes readers inside the corridors of power to show how Kennedy's New Frontiersmen grappled with the Middle East. He explains why the fiery Nasser spurned Washington's overtures and stumbled into a Middle Eastern Vietnam. He shows how Israel persuaded the Kennedy administration to start arming the Jewish state. And he grippingly describes JFK's showdown with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion over Israel's secret nuclear reactor. From the Oval Office to secret diplomatic missions to Cairo and Tel Aviv, Bass offers stunning new insights into the pivotal presidency that helped create the U.S.-Israel alliance and the modern Middle East.
Warren Bass offers new insights into the presidency of John F. Kennedy and the making of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
About the Author
'\"A major contribution to the diplomatic history of a little understood period in American Middle East diplomacy. Bass captures the full flavor of the collision between abstract interests and flesh-and-blood personalities that makes international diplomacy so fascinating. This book will be riveting even for those who think they are not especially interested in the period or its problems.... \'Support Any Friend\' uses much new documentary evidence, along with interviews and the requisite secondary studies, to advance our knowledge of a fascinating, indeed seminal, period.\"--Adam Garfinkle, The New York Times Book Review
\"Surely the definitive account of John F. Kennedy\'s Israel policy. To provide perspective on the decisions of the Kennedy administration, Bass has done a tremendous amount of legwork, consulting archives in the United States and Israel to produce a lively narrative of how different U.S. presidents have had different attitudes towards Israel.\"--Jacob Heilbrunn, The Washington Monthly
\"Stimulating and informative.... Based on deep research, well-weighed and analyzed...an important addition to our knowledge of a fraught subject.\"--Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Washington Post Book World
\"Warren Bass\'s important and timely book Support Any Friend, written with candor and firmly rooted in primary sources, takes us back to the diplomacy of the 1960s, and to what he argues were the beginnings of today\'s extraordinarily intimate alliance between the two countries. It is in effect the story of how Israel and its American friends came to exercise a profound influence on American policy toward the Arab and Muslim world. Bass believes it all began with JFK. It is an interesting thesis and he argues it well.\"--Patrick Seale, The Nation
\"Fascinating.... The strength of Support Any Friend rests on exhaustive research in government documents, numerous interviews with the important players, and one dramatic tape of a key meeting surreptitiously recorded by the President, filed at the Kennedy Library. Bass also has a gift for bringing the dry details of diplomacy to life.... Quite aside from the story it tells, Support Any Friend has the added virtue of underlining just how much has changed since the 1960s.\"--The New Leader
\"A generous introduction to the issues and events in lively prose, judiciously leavened with wryly humorous anecdotes.... An engaging book, thoroughly researched and lucidly argued, on a seminal moment in the making of one of America\'s most consequential alliances.\"--San Francisco Chronicle
\"A major contribution to our understanding of the American imperium in Middle Eastern lands. The writing is superb and the scholarship really first class. This is the sort of book I would love to have my students read!\"--Fouad Ajami
\"A fine, well-constructed study.... Bass shows with admirable clarity just how keen a student and practitioner of foreign policy JFK truly was, and especially in contrast with his recent successors.\"--Kirkus Reviews
\"Exceedingly well told.... [Bass] has written a superb book--one that a scholarly and more general audience will find fascinating and useful for understanding some of today\'s realities.\"--Dennis Ross, The Forward
\"A first-rate book.... Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots of America\'s current ties to Israel and dilemmas in trying to resolve the tensions that plague the Middle East. General readers as well as specialists will enjoy and profit from this important study.\"--Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963
\"One of the many virtues of Warren Bass\'s Support Any Friend is its ability to strip away conventional wisdom and accreted knowledge and transport a reader vividly back to a time when the United States was by no means certain to become Israel\'s ally at the expense of the Arab world. With pungent detail, wise analysis and vivid prose, Bass traces the series of diplomacy and military episodes that led Kennedy, initially very devoted to evenhandedness in Middle East policy, to align firmly, if not uncritically, with Israel....The lasting impact on the Middle East of what brief time Kennedy had is inescapable to anyone reading Warren Bass\'s illuminating book.\"--The Jewish Book World