LION'S LAST ROAR: Suez 1956 by Chester L. Cooper


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Although stationed in London throughout the 1956 Suez Crisis as a channel between British and U.S. intelligence, Cooper was kept completely in the dark by his British colleagues about the plans for the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Suez. Thus, he can inject personal testimony only on the rapidly deteriorating Anglo-U.S. relations during the tense period from July, when Nasser nationalized the Canal, to the end of the year. The result, then, based on recently declassified U.S. documents and 20 years of published sources, is a study, per the title, of the last British attempt at gunboat diplomacy. It is achieved through a depiction of the interpersonal relations between the actors--Eden, Mollet, Ben-Gurion, Nasser, Dulles, and Eisenhower--against the backdrop of increasing postwar East-West tensions. The story is one of Anglo-French-Israeli collusion to remove Nasser, upstart symbol of newly independent former colonies; of American charges of British duplicity in invading Egypt while negotiations over canal use were in progress; of British realization that the empire was gone and small England was dependent on U.S. economic aid; of shock at Soviet threats to fire nuclear rockets at offending England; of French hopes to erase the defeat of Dien Bien Phu and eliminate Nasser, the Algerian rebels' benefactor, But most of all it is the story of aristocratic, urbane Anthony Eden, Churchill's understudy for more than a quarter of a century who, when finally given the lead, finds himself unable to cope with the new postwar realities. Writing in a bright, sprightly style, Cooper adds little to Love's Suez: The Twice Fought War (1969) but spins an engrossing tale of the Suez Canal from 1869 when de Lesseps built it to 1956 when the Egyptians destroyed his statue--the last symbol of foreign control.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row