Despite its title, this book is as much a rapid review of Middle Eastern history in the last 70 years as it is a source of inside information--and the history is available elsewhere, as are many of the revelations about secret diplomacy. The significant new revelation involves American aid to the Lebanese Christians. According to Posner, the CIA trained Elie Hobeika, bodyguard of the slain Lebanese Christian Phalangist leader Bashir Gemayel and the man some believe responsible for the Lebanese massacre of Palestinian Arabs at Sabra and Shatilla. Posner also claims that the US, during both the Carter and Reagan administrations, shipped arms to the Phalangist militia. In addition to such accusations, Posner includes a lot of material on some of Israel's lesser-known spies, especially the fascinating Dina al-Asan; on the Israeli efforts to warn Anwar Sadat of assassination attempts; on the frustrating attempts to lure Jordan into peace talks; and on US policy in the area. When the writing is good, as it often is, the book reads more like a thriller than a history book. Indeed, throughout, the book is stronger when discussing people and their labyrinthine plots than when analyzing history or discussing political ideas. (The uncharacteristically badly written first chapter, for example, if full of unsubstantiated conclusions. Almost immediately, however, Posner takes us into the lives of the interesting people in the region.) Posner is a fair, unbiased writer. His book is highly readable, accessible to someone without intimate background knowledge--and, if not wholly novel, useful in its bringing together pieces of an intriguing puzzle of spies, warfare, and diplomacy.