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Hussein confidante Lunt, former commander of the Arab Legion and author of several works of military history, offers a political bio of one of the longest-reigning rulers (37 years this August) among today's leaders. Lunt claims in his introduction that, although this book was written with the cooperation of Hussein, it is no ""authorized"" or ""official"" biography. However, he can never go long without letting his complete admiration for his subject color his objectivity (but, then, Hussein is one of the few Arab leaders who has managed to appeal to many western leaders and writers). At any rate, Lunt manages to emphasize the principles that have always guided Jordan's king throughout his reign--principles that, roughly, number six: dedication to his Hashemite heritage (he is considered to be a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad); a commitment to Arab unity (in the form of a broad nationalism underpinning a comprehensive union); commitment to Arab solidarity (as symbolized by his breaking off relations with West Germany in 1965 in order to support Nasser, despite his personal reservations); a commitment to Palestine's cause; an opposition to Communism (whose atheistic precepts, he believes, render it incompatible with Islam); and, finally, a strong commitment to the continued reign of the Hashemite family in Jordan. Lunt explores Hussein's early days at Victoria College (until Abdullah's assassination forced his transfer to Harrow, where he was a co-student with Feisal). Even at Harrow, the headmaster once predicted that great things were in store for Hussein, saying that he would thrive on difficulties. That he did, surviving assassination attempts so that he could watch his nation grow from little more than a British satrapy to a business headquarters for many firms. In the meanwhile, Hussein has managed to heal Jordan's feud with Syria, bring Syria and Iraq to the brink of partnership, establish good relations with Saudi Arabia, and bring Egypt back into the Arab fold. Hussein is still young (only 54), so this can by no means be offered as a definitive work or a testament to his life. But, until the full history unfolds, it should suffice to fill the gap.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow