More than four years after the appearance of his British version (titled, Arafat; Terrorist or Peacemaker?), Hart has found a publisher for his book in the United States. The long wait speaks well for the sophistication of American publishers, for Arafat: A Political Biography is an embarrassing work of sycophancy. Here is a small sampling of quotes from the first chapter: "Arafat is loved by many of his colleagues," his "kindness and his humanity is something unbelievable," and his courtesy is "unfailing." One person is quoted as saying that compared to Gamal Abdel Nasser, "Arafat is a saint." The tone is reminiscent of biographies of Joseph Stalin in the 1940s.
To make matters worse, Hart knows almost nothing about the Middle East and has done no research in preparing this biography; all his information comes from the Palestine Liberation Organization. If, for example, the PLO blames the 1970 war with Jordan on imperialism and Zionism, you can be sure that Hart will be reporting that "American and Israeli agents had their irons in the fire and were doing their bit to guarantee . . . a catastrophe for the Palestinian people." One can only shake one's head in dismay that a university press should stoop to print so ignorant a book.
This said, the book does have some utility if read as an authorized history, not as a critical analysis. By providing an often verbatim transcript of PLO views, Hart makes available an almost transparent inventory the PLO official version.