Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite

Paperback | July 1, 1995

byRobert D. Kaplan

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Here is the untold story of an inbred, gifted, and powerful elite of families and friends who dominated America's relations with the Middle East for over a century. Known to Foreign Service colleagues as "the Arabists, " these were the men and women who had spent much of their lives, usually with their families, living in the Arab world as diplomats, military attaches, intelligence agents, and educators. Descended from the missionaries, scholars, and explorers who first ventured into the region - an offshoot of the WASP elite that ruled America during the nineteenth century - the Arabists were an exclusive caste linked by complex social, institutional, and family ties. Thoroughly at home in Arab cultures and often enjoying relations of longstanding intimacy with the monarchs and ruling elites of Arab countries, these American expatriates lived a charmed lifestyle that has become a source of intense nostalgia among the Arabists themselves as well as a symbol of their romance with Arab culture and increasing isolation from American society and interests. The Arabists dominated American policy and shaped our perception of the Arab world throughout the colonial and interwar periods. But after World War II, the diplomatic corps began to change, reflecting the country's new ethnic and social diversity. Kaplan describes the impact of this change within the State Department, showing how the advent of Irish Catholics, Jews, and Harvard-trained regional experts created internal pressures that slowly loosened the Arabists' grip on Middle East diplomacy in the postwar period. Drawing on interviews, memoirs, and other official and private sources, Kaplan reconstructs the hundred-year history of theArabist elite, and traces their decline against the background of this social transformation.

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From Our Editors

In this highly acclaimed and original work of social and cultural history, the author of the bestselling Balkan Ghosts relates the never-before-told story of the expatriate elite that shaped American policy in the Middle East for more than a century. 39 photos.

From the Publisher

Here is the untold story of an inbred, gifted, and powerful elite of families and friends who dominated America's relations with the Middle East for over a century. Known to Foreign Service colleagues as "the Arabists, " these were the men and women who had spent much of their lives, usually with their families, living in the Arab worl...

Journalist Robert D. Kaplan is a contributing editor The Atlantic Monthly. He has traveled extensively, and his journeys through Yugoslavia and America have produced, respectively, Balkan Ghosts (which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) and An Empire Wilderness.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1 inPublished:July 1, 1995

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0028740238

ISBN - 13:9780028740232

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From Our Editors

In this highly acclaimed and original work of social and cultural history, the author of the bestselling Balkan Ghosts relates the never-before-told story of the expatriate elite that shaped American policy in the Middle East for more than a century. 39 photos.