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The October War

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The October War: A Retrospective

“[The October War is] a close examination of the events leading up to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and . . . the first comparative analysis by Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, American, and former Soviet military and diplomatic participants and scholars of that seminal event.”

HERMAN F. EILTS, U.S. Ambassador (ret.)

This often surprising book shares firsthand accounts and frank discussions from a meeting held in October 1998 on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Egypt and Syria’s attack on Israeli army positions in the Sinai and Golan. Twenty-five scholars and senior officials, former and current, searched for answers to persistent questions about the failure of diplomacy to avert the war, the failure of intelligence agencies to predict it, the mechanics of conflict management, and whether the seeming opportunity the war provided for a comprehensive peace was adequately exploited. The meeting produced firsthand accounts and frank discussion of the parties’ diverse perceptions, motives, and mistakes. Although few agreed answers emerged, policymakers will find important lessons here, and readers will gain better understanding of the questions and of why the peace process is in trouble today.

Richard Parker’s initiative in organizing the meeting reflected his sustained interest in the region. In thirty-one years in the U.S. Foreign Service, he distinguished himself as an Arabic language and area specialist and as ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco. He has taught at the University of Virginia, Lawrence University, and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; edited the Middle East Journal (1981–87); and pursued research and writing as a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the John Adams Fulbright Fellow in London, and scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute. He was ADST’s founding president and has published five other books on the Middle East and North Africa.