THE NEW 100 YEARS WAR by Georgie Anne Geyer


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Miss Geyer, a foreign correspondent, visited the Middle East in 1969-70 and in particular explored the Arab world, ""a twilight and dawn world -- half Occidental and half Oriental, whose lips are sealed in eternal secrets."" She offers us some temporal revelations, criticizing American aid to the Ethiopian counterinsurgency against the Eritreans, and a great many anecdotes about visas, liquor, and stomach ailments. Her approach, as in her New Latins (1970), is to stress ""national mentality"": thus we are alternately assured that the cliches about Arabs aren't true and treated to a rehash of them. Rather than political categories -- there is barely a stab at discussing differences within the Palestine liberation movement -- Geyer deals in sweeping catchwords (""vibrant new Palestinian nationalism""); she substitutes historical platitudes for analysis (""ancient racial and religious hatreds""); pseudo-analysis for social and economic grasp (she thinks it significant that the Arabs have so much more land than Israel); and the cornball for the literary (the book ends with Christmas in Jerusalem and a ""God rest ye, merry gentlemen!""). The author's non-partisanship can be recommended as far as it goes: pro-Israel readers may object to her emphasis on evidence of Israeli atrocities and systematic torture in the occupied regions; pro-Arab readers to her conviction that the ""miserable refugee"" situation is a myth. She concludes that the U.S. stake lies on the Arab side -- she sounds like she just discovered this view after decades of State Department pro-Arabism; but it is hard to believe that a propaganda impulse, rather than sheer featherheadedness, impels her to return again and again to the theme of Arab men, their handsomeness, and surprising degree of civility. In short, it's writers like Geyer who give women journalists a bad name.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1971
Publisher: Doubleday