Prepared with assistance from Tasha Prados, Rianna Starheim, and Kevin Whitmeyer.
American Diplomacy and the Israeli War of Independence, by Frank W. Brecher. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Press, 2013. 212 pages. $45 paper. Frank W. Brecher, a career foreign service officer, describes how President Harry Truman and high-level US officials navigated the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, Israel’s independence, and the ensuing Arab-Israeli war. Drawing on diaries and transcripts of telephone conversations from officials such as Truman and Under Secretary of State Robert Lovett, Brecher shows how the Israel-Palestine issue was as polarizing in 1947/48 as it is currently. For instance, he reveals that the State Department attempted to go behind the president’s back at the United Nations in order to avoid what many believed would inevitably be war were the partition plan to take effect. American Diplomacy and the Israeli War of Independence adds to the literature on the Israel-Palestine issue by showing the divisiveness it caused from its beginning and how many of the same points of contention have reemerged since the end of the Cold War. (KW)
This is Jerusalem Calling: State Radio in Mandate Palestine, by Andrea L. Stanton. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2013. 270 pages. $55. This is Jerusalem Calling tells the largely forgotten story of the Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS), the state-run radio station of British-controlled Mandate Palestine that provided Arabic, Hebrew, and English programming to listeners from 1936 through 1948. Though PBS was modeled after the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), it quickly assumed a life of its own, serving as an outlet that reflected and magnified regional Palestinian and Zionist tensions. In 1948, paralleling Palestine’s partition and the Arab-Israeli war, PBS was divided into an Arabic Jordanian station and a Hebrew Israeli station. Stanton calls attention to the political and social influence of radio in the Middle East through the 1930s and 1940s; This is Jerusalem Calling is a reference for scholars interested in expanding upon this research. (RS)
Caucasus and Central Asia
A History of the Land of Artsakh: Karabagh and Ganje, 1722–1827, by Sergius Hasan-Jalaliants, ed. by Robert H. Hewsen, trans. by Ka’ren V. Ketendjian. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2013. 256 pages. $40. This first English translation of an unpublished transcript by Archbishop Sergius Hasan-Jalaliants records the history of Karabakh and Ganje in eastern Armenia from 1722–1827. During this time, the Ottoman and Safavid empires were declining in power and influence as the Russian Empire grew: these events greatly affected the history of the people of the South Caucasus. Sergius chronicled how Karabakh, or Artsakh as it was known to the Armenians, had its own rich development during this time. The primary focus of his manuscript was the wars between Karabakh Armenians, Persian Muslims, and local, Turkic Muslims. Prefaces by the translator, Ketedjian, and editor, Hewsen, include important historical and contextual information. (KW)
The Story of Barzu as told by Two Storytellers from Boysun, Uzbekistan, edited and translated by R. Rahmoni and G.R. van den Berg. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 146 pages. $57.50. Editors and translators Ravshon Rahmoni and Gabrielle van den Berg capture the art of oral Persian storytelling on the page in The Story of Barzu. They tell and interpret two different versions of the tale of Barzu, a hero presented as from Boysun,a town in the Surxondaryo province in southeastern Uzbekistan. The legend of Barzu is based on the writing of the poet Ferdowsi in the Shahnameh (Book of Kings). Translated from Tajik, The Story of Barzu gives readers a rare glimpse into the culture, history, and oral traditions that have survived in a remote region of Uzbekistan. Anyone with an interest in storytelling, appreciation for a good story, or an interest in the region will appreciate this unique work. (TP)
Buraimi: The Struggle for Power, Influence and Oil in Arabia, by Michael Quentin Morton. London: I.B. Taurus, 2013. 286 pages. $40. The son of a British geologist who did exploratory work in the Middle East, Michael Morton grew up in Qatar, Bahrain and...