This book begins by relating an incident which now, scarcely two decades after it occurred, seems fantastically distant: FDR disposing of a ""perplexing file"" with the words, ""Arabia is too far afield for us. Can't you get the British to do something?"" Nobody can pretend today that Near, Middle, or Far East is ""too far afield"" for U.S. concern and responsibility. Yet we, as a people, know scarcely more about the problems to be faced in that area than we did in 1940, and we have nothing deserving the name of a Middle East Policy. Mr. Thornburg has spent thirty-odd years in the region in various commercial and advisory capacities, and his analysis of the social, political, and economic realities there is always judicious and never excessively generalized. The bulk of the volume is not devoted to the formulation of any particular policy, but rather, with a vivid stock of pertinent anecdotes, to a description of the many human factors which any feasible policy would necessarily take into consideration. Only in his final chapter does he permit himself the luxury of speculation. Mr. Thornburg is greatly attached to the people of the Middle East, but he is above all a practical American. And it is this quality which makes his book his book an important as well as readable contribution.