Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

A Political Economy of the Middle East

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

A Political Economy of the Middle East

Article excerpt

A Political Economy of the Middle East. Third Edition. By Alan Richards and John Waterbury. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2008. 474pp. $50, paper.

The role of economics in the Middle East's many troubles is often exaggerated by outsiders. No peoples in the world are as ideologically driven as Middle Easterners; they were not bom to shop. That said, it is worth considering what the region has been able to accomplish with its ample resources.

From the first 1992 edition, A Political Economy of the Middle East has been the most influential book on the issue. Not long after the second edition (1996), Waterbury became president of the American University in Beirut. Richards, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cmz, is therefore the sole author of the extensive revisions in this edition. He has ably incorporated data that bring the story up to the present. As before, the analysis is largely done by topic, such as demographic change, regional economic integration, urban life, and food and water. The chapters on types of economic policy - state-led growth, market-led growth, military control, and Islamism - are also structured primarily around grand themes although they inevitably have substantial sections about the experiences of particular states.

Like earlier editions, the 2008 revision sees the region as a glass half full, which is a much more positive evaluation than that of many Middle Easterners themselves. Richards is quite correct in writing, "What is astonishing is that despite the investment of colossal resources and energies in the destruction of enemies, the region is more prosperous, its citizens better educated, and its nations more firmly rooted than forty years ago. …

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