By David Fromkin
President Clinton recommended this history of the Middle East to me, and if the president tells you to read a book, you do. Fromkin shows how these political states were set up artificially after World War I, and he traces the role of the West in negotiating each country's boundary. He covers the main historical events but also the bureaucratic intrigue: the relationships between the British and the French and how diplomats treated one another. When I was the secretary of state, I found that everybody thinks these crisis situations are the result of one bad decision, but as this book makes clear, our situation today isn't the result of a single choice. You start down a particular road, and then you take another little step, another little step—it's not as if there's ever a 'eureka' decision, one moment in time when you can look back and say, 'That's where it all went wrong.'