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KING'S COUNSEL by Jack O'Connell


A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East

by Jack O'Connell with Vernon Loeb

Pub Date: May 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-393-06334-9
Publisher: Norton

Insights about failed diplomacy in the Middle East by an American agent with a unique perspective.

After earning a law degree and a doctorate, the late O’Connell (1921–2010) joined the CIA and was stationed in Jordan in 1958, where he won the trust of King Hussein, a significant U.S. ally in the volatile Middle East. After leaving the CIA in the early ’70s, the author joined his brother's law firm and became Hussein's Washington representative. The two men dealt with each other, in public and private, thousands of times. O'Connell came to see Hussein as the most likely broker of accord between the Jewish state of Israel and its Arab antagonists. But frequently his comrades at the CIA, as well as other U.S. government officials, seemed blinded to Hussein's potential as a peace broker because of political allegiances to Israel. Throughout the narrative, the author portrays many prominent American political figures as fools or liars, or both—including Henry Kissinger, Lyndon Johnson, Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush. The memoir is bound to cause controversy within Israel and among Israeli supporters around the globe, given the author's rage at what he believes is a murderous state whose most influential leaders prefer war to peace. Despite the foibles of the CIA, O'Connell demonstrates little ill will, remaining a loyal alumnus.

A readable, potentially incendiary account that assumes a certain amount of prior knowledge about Middle East diplomacy, yet is coherent enough for novice readers to follow.