Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace


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Publish Date
6.3 X 1.54 X 9.28 inches | 2.11 pounds
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About the Author

Avi Shlaim was born in Baghdad in 1945, grew up in Israel, and studied at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. He is a Fellow of St. Antony's College and a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2006. His books include Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (winner of the Political Studies Association's 1988 WJM Mackenzie Prize); The Politics of Partition; War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History; and The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. He lives in Oxford.


"A powerful, richly researched history. . . . Fascinating. . . . Passionately engaged. . . . Nuanced and human. . . . Shlaim's blow-by-blow account of Hussein's career reads as a somberly addictive saga. . . . King Hussein's whole life was spent in foreign affairs, and his story becomes the story of the Middle East over half a century."
--New York Review of Books

"King Hussein was a leader of remarkable vision, commitment and humanity. . . . Shlaim brilliantly lays out Hussein's search for tranquility for his country and his neighbors, and the obstacles his negotiating partners put in his way."
--The Washington Post

"An absorbing diplomatic chronicle. . . . [Shlaim's] authority, and tenacity, are undeniable. . . . His narrative is gripping. . . . Shlaim details every move, much like a crime reporter covering an interminable gang war, marveling at the young boss's ability to play for a draw or make his own luck. . . . Step by step, he guides us through the opportunities the players did not miss a chance to miss."
--The Nation

"Excellent. . . . A particularly valuable account of Hussein's relations with Israel and the Palestinians."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Shlaim is an Iraqi-born academic, reared in Israel and long resident in Britain, who writes about the Middle East with exceptional wisdom and insight. . . . [He] tells the story extremely well."
--Max Hastings, Sunday Times (London)

"The most authoritative biography of [King Hussein]. . . . He emerges from under Shlaim's microscope as honest, fundamentally decent and, in a region noted for its brutality and treachery, notably merciful and kind. In his personal dealings, most strikingly with the Israelis, he was especially gracious. . . . Without his relentless diplomacy (conducted often along those secret channels), the region might be even bloodier than it is already."
--The Economist

"A thrilling, masterful biography."
--Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sunday Telegraph (London), Book of the Year

"Riveting. . . . Artful. . . . Thoroughly informed."
--Wall Street Journal

"A highly readable account of the courageous, astute and sometimes impulsive leader of 'an impecunious and insignificant desert kingdom.'"
--Financial Times

"Remarkable. . . . Shlaim tells [this story], for all its complicated scholarship and historical allusion, with genuine compassion. . . . He has worried his way through subterfuge and mendacity, terrorist threat and open warfare, to establish Hussein's credentials as a genuine champion of peace."
--Jan Morris, Guardian (London)

"All would-be Middle East peacemakers should read [Lion of Jordan]. For Shlaim shows not only how attempts at peacemaking in the region have failed, but also why."
--Sunday Telegraph (London)

"Shlaim is the sort of historian every country needs. An exposer of national myths, [he is] the supreme scholar of Arab-Israeli negotiations. . . . For many years [Lion of Jordan] will remain the standard work on King Hussein."
--The Spectator

"Superb. . . . [Shlaim] not only has the twists and turns of the Arab-Israeli conflict at his fingertips but understands better than most why it has twisted or turned."
--New Statesman

"If one wishes to personalise the political history of the Middle East in the second half of the 20th century, there is no better choice of subject than Hussein bin Talal. . . . [Lion of Jordan] captures well the noble aspirations of its subject."
--Daily Telegraph (London)

"Shlaim's stinging critique of Israel might stir controversy, but his comprehensive, nuanced account of Hussein's life illuminates the tragic complexities of Middle Eastern politics."
--Publishers Weekly

"Wide-ranging and well-documented. . . . Shlaim's book gives us a better understanding of a major politician."
--The Observer (London)