American Orientalism

The United States and the Middle East since 1945

Third Edition

By Douglas Little

With a new preface by the author

464 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5898-1
    Published: April 2008
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7761-6
    Published: September 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8407-7
    Published: September 2009

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Douglas Little explores the stormy American relationship with the Middle East from World War II through the war in Iraq, focusing particularly on the complex and often inconsistent attitudes and interests that helped put the United States on a collision course with radical Islam early in the new millennium. After documenting the persistence of "orientalist" stereotypes in American popular culture, Little examines oil, Israel, and other aspects of U.S. policy. He concludes that a peculiar blend of arrogance and ignorance has led American officials to overestimate their ability to shape events in the Middle East from 1945 through the present day, and that it has been a driving force behind the Iraq war. For this updated third edition, Little covers events through 2007, including a new chapter on the Bush Doctrine, demonstrating that in many important ways, George W. Bush's Middle Eastern policies mark a sharp break with the past.

About the Author

Douglas Little is professor of history at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is author of Malevolent Neutrality: The United States, Great Britain, and the Origins of the Spanish Civil War.
For more information about Douglas Little, visit the Author Page.


"Little provides literary flair, both in his references to fiction and in his own writing style. . . . A solid collection of essays dealing with multiple facets of U.S. relations with the Middle East and offers a bold and simple thesis about American attitudes toward the region."--Journal of Cold War Studies

"Little's detailed and well-documented chapters are very much in the manner of Twain, offering an ironic description of American thought and action regarding the Middle East. Not a bad thing, that."--Foreign Affairs

"A study of revolutions, Middle East-style. . . . It is remarkable how much of the inside story [Little] has been able to obtain. . . . Little's vigorously argued, thematic account is sound. . . . [This book is] aimed at attracting a wide readership, which [it] certainly deserves. . . . The book deals in an illuminating way with modernization and Westernization . . . and, equally, with the reaction in the Middle East against one or the other, or both."--Times Literary Supplement

“This is a commendable work to all concerned with the Middle East.”--Virginia Quarterly Review

“An excellent resource for students of the Middle East.”--H-Levant

"Seldom has a book been more timely or essential than Douglas Little's essays on American policy in the Middle East. . . . Little offers some refreshing clarity. He has combined broad reading and research with sober judgment to help readers understand the pattern of American Middle East policy."--Journal of American History