cover image THE MISSING PEACE: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace

THE MISSING PEACE: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace

Dennis Ross, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35 (872pp) ISBN 978-0-374-19973-9

This is the ultimate insider's account of the roller-coaster ride of the Middle East peace process from 1988 to the breakdown of talks in 2001. More than anything else, Ross, the chief U.S. negotiator for Presidents Bush 41 and Clinton, has written an epic diplomat's handbook. We see the moves and countermoves on both sides, the preparation that goes into any statement or gesture, the backroom wheeling and dealing and the dance of language and meaning. Ross lays out, in painstaking detail, the "one step forward, two steps back" approach that finally led to such breakthroughs as the handshake on the White House lawn. He offers detailed accounts of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the rise and fall of Benjamin Netanyahu and a picture of Arafat "seeking to have it both ways... La-Nam (no and yes in Arabic)." Ross's critical eye paints a vivid picture of the very different characters and strategies of Arafat, Barak and Clinton, and what led to the failure at Camp David. While Ross lands in the blame-Arafat camp, he is not without criticism of Barak and Clinton. Tragically, for all those who follow this region, Ross's book does not present a hopeful picture; the litany of failures sounds like a broken record: "We left the region hopeful, but that hope was premature"; "Once again, however, our best-laid plans went awry." Sure to garner its share of controversy and media attention, this work of history in the making is essential reading for anyone interested in why we are where we are in the Middle East. Maps not seen by PW . (Aug.)