Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Aug 14, 2003 - Political Science - 395 pages
1 Review
Yasir Arafat stands as one of the most resilient, recognizable and controversial political figures of modern times. The object of unrelenting suspicion, steady admiration and endless speculation, Arafat has occupied the center stage of Middle East politics for almost four decades. Yasir Arafat is the most comprehensive political biography of this remarkable man. Forged in a tumultuous era of competing traditionalism, radicalism, Arab nationalism, and Islamist forces, the Palestinian movement was almost entirely Arafat's creation, and he became its leader at an early age. Arafat took it through a dizzying series of crises and defeats, often of his own making, yet also ensured that it survived, grew, and gained influence. Disavowing terrorism repeatedly, he also practiced it constantly. Arafat's elusive behavior ensured that radical regimes saw in him a comrade in arms, while moderates backed him as a potential partner in peace. After years of devotion to armed struggle, Arafat made a dramatic agreement with Israel that let him return to his claimed homeland and transformed him into a legitimized ruler. Yet at the moment of decision at the Camp David summit and afterward, when he could have achieved peace and a Palestinian state, he sacrificed the prize he had supposedly sought for the struggle he could not live without. Richly populated with the main events and dominant leaders of the Middle East, this detailed and analytical account by Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin follows Arafat as he moves to Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and finally to Palestinian-ruled soil. It shows him as he rewrites his origins, experiments with guerrilla war, develops a doctrine of terrorism, fights endless diplomatic battles, and builds a movement, constantly juggling states, factions, and world leaders. Whole generations and a half-dozen U.S. presidents have come and gone over the long course of Arafat's career. But Arafat has outlasted them all, spanning entire eras, with three constants always present: he has always survived, he has constantly seemed imperiled, and he has never achieved his goals. While there has been no substitute for Arafat, the authors conclude, Arafat has been no substitute for a leader who could make peace.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I put down the book after reading the first 20 or so pages; I do not question whether the facts are right or wrong, but it is obvious the writers intended from the beginning to portray Arafat as a failed duplicitous personality that betrayed their bias and intellectual dishonesty.


A Most Unlikely Leader 19291967
The Che Guevara of the Middle East 19671971
The Teflon Terrorist 19711975
Fouling His Own Nest 19751983
Far Away from Home 19841991
Hero of the Return 19911995
There Is a Tide in the Affairs of Men 19951999
The Moment of Truth 2000
Being Yasir Arafat
No End to the Struggle 20012003
Selected Bibliography

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 7 - The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own making. He's missed his opportunities and thereby betrayed the hopes of the people he's supposed to lead.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

Director of the Global Research in International Affairs and editor of the journal Middle East Review of International Affairs, Barry Rubin is the author and editor of numerous books, most recently The Tragedy of the Middle East. Judith Colp Rubin is a veteran correspondent for several newspapers and coeditor, with Barry Rubin, of Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East.

Bibliographic information