A veteran reporter reveals the Middle East; a proliferation expert tracks the nuclear tech trade
Dining with Al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East
By Hugh Pope (Thomas Dunne, $26.99)
The author is a seasoned Middle East correspondent, having served for a decade as the Wall Street Journal’s point man in the area, just a small slice of the 30 years he has lived and worked in the region since visiting as an Oxford student in 1980. It’s a very personal, revealing tour of a part of the globe that is, more often than not, simplistically referred to as the “Islamic World,” a label Pope scoffs at, and he’s eager to show you why. His narrative, jumping back and forth in time, showcases the rich diversities of cultures, religions (there are variations within Islam itself) and societal mores. He closes with the years before and after the American invasion of Iraq. News, shall we say, beyond the network soundbites.
Peddling Peril: How the Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America's Enemies
By David Albright (Free Press, $27)
The title may not come as much of a shock -- it seems a few times a year a story breaks about the smuggling of nuclear technology and the covert efforts of rogue groups and states to acquire it, from Iraq to North Korea. The warning that al-Qaeda or some other equally dreaded terrorist group will almost certainly detonate such a device has become a fait accompli among the experts as well as a public that has grown used to dire warnings of all stripes. But, for those that can get past the wonky parts (and it’s no crime to know your stuff really, really well) this book will shake up even the most complacent among us. The Pakistani scientist A.G. Khan and his global smuggling network of nuclear secrets is the book’s central case study, but despite Khan’s arrest years back, the market for such illicit information continues to thrive and elude event the savviest of government watchdogs.
March 23, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
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