PositiveThe Guardian (UK)... highly readable and well-sourced ... a bleak but real-life thriller ... some parts of this grim story are heartening ... The author draws helpfully on the memoirs of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s speech-writer, UN ambassador Samantha Power, and Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton.
RaveThe Observer (UK)Ben Hubbard’s account of the life, machiavellian style and ambitions of the de facto ruler of the largest and wealthiest country in the Gulf is a fine example of talented and dogged reporting ... Overall, this is an impressively well-sourced work. There is a fascinating account of Barack Obama confronting him (though he continued US arms sales despite the war in Yemen) and an insightful description of relations between the crown prince and Jared Kushner ... Another riveting chapter is devoted to the three-week tour of the US by the crown prince in the spring of 2018 ... It would be surprising if the crown prince came out much better in later drafts of history than this impressive first one.
RaveThe Observer (UK)\"Kim Ghattas has not only drawn the big picture of how those events shaped the region but offers timely and thought-provoking insights into their continuing destructive influence. The weaponisation of sectarianism, women’s rights, the frustrated hopes of the Arab spring, the rise of Al-Qaida and Islamic State are all richly contextualised and illustrated ... Ghattas spent a successful career as a journalist for the BBC. It shows in her wonderfully readable account. Intellectuals, clerics and novelists are highlighted because they represent ideas and suffering in the face of repressive regimes and intolerant ideologies ... Ghattas has an enviable gift for going beyond politics. Arabic dialects, the music of the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum, Beirut restaurants serving caviar during ceasefires and witty anecdotes about Hezbollah all serve as a backdrop ... Whatever happens next in this long-running, oppressive and dangerous Middle Eastern drama, Black Wave will be a vivid, indispensable guide to the story so far.\
RaveThe Guardian... full of square-jawed spies, bags of cash, gizmos such as the Predator drone and the secure communications link between the Panjshir Valley and Langley, but good too on less sexy subjects like Islamic madrasas and Saudi charitable foundations ... a remarkable testimony to the ability of a well-connected Washington journalist to penetrate the shadowy parts of the US government ... Coll is terrific inside the Washington beltway ... ranks as a piece of contemporary history ... It ducks some questions - not least the role of the spooks in the Afghan drugs trade. But it gives hope that we shall hear one day, from other dogged journalists, full accounts of the CIA and the hunt for Saddam\'s WMD; its \'renditions\' of terrorist suspects; the path to Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo; de-Ba\'athification and the disaster of postwar planning in Iraq; and the truth about foreign jihadis and the Sunni insurgency - and some of the other unanticipated consequences of the deadly interaction between 21st-century America and militant Islam.
PositiveThe GuardianRonen Bergman’s account of his country’s targeted assassinations contains a wealth of detail about this and other killings ... Bergman is one of Israel’s leading investigative journalists with a reputation for scoops on shadowy subjects ... he clearly has remarkable access, citing internal accounts of operations and scores of interviews with spymasters, agent-handlers and killers, keen to tell their stories ...
Bergman’s style tends to the sensational but that does not mask a critical strand that questions the morality and effectiveness of Israel’s approach to dealing with the enemy in its own backyard.
RaveThe GuardianJames Barr’s beautifully written and deeply researched book ... takes place largely in corridors of power. There is barely a subaltern in sight. But it goes far beyond classic diplomatic history, the genre of \'what one clerk said to another,\' superbly illustrating the constraints of Britain’s decline and America’s inexorable rise, the two united only by hostility to the Soviet Union and concern for their respective national interests. Barr also deftly integrates the role of secret intelligence in foreign policy, drawing on the diary of a little-known journalist-cum-MI6 agent to add indiscreet and illuminating detail. If most of the events covered are broadly familiar, they are seen from an unusual angle ... The lesson...is that as war rages, strategies for defeating enemies are closely linked to securing the spoils of peace to gain advantage over allies.