Three multi-authored books on roughly the same subject have appeared within a few months. The Spiegel volume is by far the best — one of those few conference volumes where the whole adds up to more than the parts. Twenty-two chapters cover every aspect of the great power rivalry from arms transfers to terrorism to the Iraq-Iran war. The editors have virtually eliminated duplication while preserving a diversity of viewpoints. Almost every chapter provides an important study of a major topic. In brief, this is a model cooperative effort.
Braun's collection cannot match such consistent excellence, but it does offer several fine essays, including those by the editor, Joel J. Sokolsky, and Roger Savory.
Little good can be said about the Wells and Bruzonsky book. It has no clear topic of focus and its authors tend to rehearse old information and flog well-worn arguments. Indeed, one-third of the chapters are made up of works published between 1981 and 1984 and there is hardly a single reference to events after 1984. A sense that this book slipped out of a time-capsule is reinforced by finding advice proffered to an incoming second Reagan administration. The section on the "Palestinian quagmire" makes for embarrassing reading, as Herbert C. Kelman tries to find the social psychological mood suitable for an Israeli-'Arafat agreement, Simha Flappan offers an Israeli apology for the PLO, and Bruce R. Kuniholm devises ways for the U.S. government to turn the screws on