Penguin Book

Lion of Jordan

Avi Shlaim

For most of his long reign (1953-1999) Hussein of Jordan was one of the dominant figures in Middle Eastern politics, its most continuous presence, and one of the most consistent proponents of peace with Israel. This is the first major account of his life and reign, written with access to many of his surviving papers, with the co-operation (but not approval) of his family and staff, and extensive interviews with policy-makers of many different nationalities.

For over forty years Hussein walked a tightrope between the Palestinians and the Arab radicals on the one hand and Israel on the other. Shlaim reveals that for the sake of dynastic and national survival, Hussein initiated a secret dialogue with Israel in 1963, and spent (by his own estimate) over 1000 hours in talks with Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, Itzhak Shamir, Itzhak Rabin, and countless other Israeli officials. Shlaim reconstructs this dialogue across the battle-lines from new Israeli records and first-hand accounts by many of the key participants, demonstrating that Israeli intransigence was largely responsible for the failure to achieve a peaceful settlement to the conflict between 1967 and 1994.

King Hussein had an extraordinary career as both soldier and statesman. He is so far the only non-Christian monarch to be commemorated by a memorial service in St. Paul's Cathedral; in his address, the Prince of Wales called him 'a man amongst men, a king amongst kings’. This biography, by one of Israel's leading 'new historians', shows the qualities and character of this titanic individual for the first time in book form, and significantly rewrites the history of the Middle East over the past 50 years.

Avi Shlaim was born in Baghdad in 1945 and grew up in Israel where he did national service from 1964 to 66. He is now a Professor of International Relations at St Antony's College, Oxford.

His previous books include Collusion across the Jordan (winner of the 1988 Political Studies Association's W. J. M. Mackenzie Prize); The Politics of Partition (1990 and 1998); War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History (1995) and The Cold War and the Middle East (co-editor, 1997).

Avi Shlaim is a frequent contributor to the newspapers and a commentator on radio and television on Middle East affairs.

Publication date
  • Biography and Memoir
  • History
Format TPS
234 x 153mm
16pp b/w inset
Random House Inc (Knopf)
Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim
Audio (Unabridged)
Avi Shlaim
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