Karsh, Efraim 1953-

views updated

Karsh, Efraim 1953-

PERSONAL:

Born September 5, 1953; married Inari Rautsi (a historian).

ADDRESSES:

Office—Mediterranean Studies, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

King's College London, London, England, professor and head of the Mediterranean studies program. Previously taught at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Columbia University, New York, NY; Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland; the Sorbonne, Paris, France; London School of Economics, London, England; the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Washington, DC; and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Appears regularly as a new commentator for radio and television in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

WRITINGS:

Soviet Arms Transfers to the Middle East in the 1970s, Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1983.

The Cautious Bear: Soviet Military Engagement in Middle East Wars in the Post-1967 Era, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1985.

(Editor) The Iran-Iraq War: Impact and Implications, Macmillan in association with the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire), 1987, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

The Soviet Union and Syria: The Asad Years, Royal Institute of International Affairs (London, England), 1988.

Neutrality and Small States, Routledge (New York, NY), 1988.

Soviet Policy towards Syria since 1970, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

(With wife, Inari Rautsi) Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography, Free Press (New York, NY), 1991, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Lawrence Freedman) The Gulf Conflict, 1990-1991: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1993.

(Editor, with Martin S. Navias and Philip Sabin) Non-conventional-weapons Proliferation in the Middle East: Tackling the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Capabilities, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1993.

(Editor) Peace in the Middle East: The Challenge for Israel, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 1994.

(Editor, with Gregory Mahler) Israel at the Crossroads: The Challenge of Peace, British Academic Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor) Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security, F. Cass (Portland, OR), 1996.

Shikhtuv Ha-historyah Shel Yisrael, Merkaz Mosheh Dayan le-limude ha-Mizrah ha-Tikhon ve-Afrikah (Tel Aviv, Israel), 1997.

(Editor) From Rabin to Netanyahu: Israel's Troubled Agenda, Portland (London, England), 1997.

Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians,’ Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 1997, 2nd edition, 2000.

(With Inari Karsh) Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

(Editor, with Dan Urian) In Search of Identity: Jewish Aspects in Israeli Culture, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 1999.

(Editor) Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. I: From Community to State, Frank Cass (London, England), 1999.

(Editor) Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. II: From War to Peace?, Frank Cass (London, England), 2000.

(Editor) Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. III: Problems of Collective Identity, Frank Cass (London, England), 2002.

The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988, Osprey Pub. (Oxford, England), 2002.

Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Milhemet Oslo: Anatomyah Shel Honaah Eatsmit, Universitat Bar-Ilan (Ramat Gan, Israel), 2003.

Rethinking the Middle East, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 2003.

(Editor, with P.R. Kumaraswamy) Israel, the Hashemites, and the Palestinians: The Fateful Triangle, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 2003.

(Editor) Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. IV: Israel in the International Arena, Frank Cass (London, England), 2004.

Islamic Imperialism: A History, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2006.

Arab Imperialism: The Tragedy of the Middle East, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (Ramat-Gan, Israel), 2006.

The Iran-Iraq War, Rosen Pub. (New York, NY), 2009.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The 1948 War, Rosen Pub. (New York, NY), 2009.

Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, London Times, Sunday Times, and Daily Telegraph.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer and educator Efraim Karsh was born September 5, 1953. He serves on the faculty of King's College London in England, where he is the head of the department of Mediterranean studies. Karsh has taught at a number of institutions around the world, including Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Columbia University in New York City; Helsinki University in Finland; the Sorbonne in Paris; the London School of Economics; the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, located in Washington, DC; and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel. His primary academic and research interests focus on Middle Eastern affairs, particularly Israel and Iraq, and their relationship to Europe and the United States, as well as Soviet foreign policy. He is regularly asked to appear in different media forums as a commentator, and he has contributed articles to a variety of periodicals, including the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, London Times, Sunday Times, and Daily Telegraph. He is also the author or editor of a number of books on issues pertaining to the Middle East, some of which were written with his wife, Inari Rautsi Karsh.

Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography, a joint effort between Karsh and his wife, Inari, addresses the mystery that shrouded the Iraqi leader over the course of his time in power. There is a duality to his reputation that is somewhat paradoxical, as someone supposedly so intelligent and clever should never have entered Kuwait in 1990, thereby allowing the United States the opportunity to rise up against him, but at the same time, the length of his rule suggests he must have been more wise than he sometimes appeared, giving the impression that there was more to his thought process than was readily apparent. The book looks at the progression of Hussein's leadership, some of the more curious decisions he made as well as their results, and the overriding survival instinct that appeared to be his main, if not his sole driving force. Several revised editions have been released since its initial publication.

Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ addresses the recent analysis of Israeli history that claims that Arabs were forcibly removed from the Palestinian region so the Israelis could create what was, in a sense, a colony of their own. According to Karsh, the historians behind these accusations acted in an unprofessional manner by taking such a stand, and the author proceeds to detail the various errors that make their arguments faulty. These mistakes include incorrect translations due to poor skills in Arabic, taking information out of context, misquoting, and outright altering source material. At the same time, Karsh analyzes the premise that the new historians stood against in an effort to determine whether it is actually valid. Akram F. Khater, writing for History: Review of New Books, concluded that "the intricate detail that suffuses Karsh's narrative makes the book accessible only to those who are well read in the field."

Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923, which Karsh also wrote with his wife, provides readers with a detailed overview of Middle Eastern history, focusing on the collapse and end of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent development of the various Middle Eastern states that were formed from the land that was once its domain. The authors' intention is to correct a number of misconceptions regarding Middle Eastern history that have been perpetuated over the past two hundred years among Westerners, particularly in relation to the roles of the British and other Europeans in the development of the region's political systems. Despite what has been written in numerous history texts, Western nations were not solely responsible for the independence of the Middle East from Ottoman rule, and Empires of the Sand illustrates how poor choices made by the Ottoman leaders contributed to the shift in power. The Karshes offer a revised history from the Middle Eastern viewpoint, paying particular attention to geographical and diplomatic concerns, though some information is included regarding social and trading issues and the occasional military details. Richard Bernstein, writing for the New York Times Book Review, noted that this approach results in a somewhat dry read, but concluded that "the authors write clearly and authoritatively and with great geographical sweep. They provide crisp and informed accounts of the main events involving the Ottomans and the rest of the world." Jay Freeman, in a review for Booklist, dubbed the book "an original and provocative reexamination of the recent history of this vital region."

In Islamic Imperialism: A History, Karsh addresses the issues of East versus West, taking a look at the ongoing conflict between the primarily Christian parts of the world and the more extremist followers of Islam. According to the commonly held belief, much of the strife is the result of the way in which the Western world has attempted to dominate the Middle East since the end of World War I. Many historians operate under the assumption that human beings are basically the same, and it is only the way they approach their beliefs that differ. Because of the common ground they spring from, ultimately they should be able to find ways in which to work together and to allow differences in opinion on issues that, while important to them, are not so fundamental as to require total agreement. Karsh, however, disagrees with this stance, and over the course of his book points out the strong history of Islam as an aggressive religion that seeks to take over the world, and bases his argument on the trends of the religion since its earliest days. William E. Watson, writing for History: Review of New Books, found that the book "challenges many prevailing assumptions about the supposed toleration of medieval and modern Islamic states compared with the West."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Air & Space Power Journal, winter, 2003, review of The Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988, p. 111.

Booklist, October 15, 1999, Jay Freeman, review of Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923, p. 414; April 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Islamic Imperialism: A History, p. 7.

Canadian Journal of History, December 1, 2001, William L. Cleveland, review of Empires of the Sand, p. 614.

Commentary, January 1, 2000, Daniel Pipes, review of Empires of the Sand, p. 74.

Commonweal, May 7, 1993, John Langan, review of The Gulf Conflict, 1990-91: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order, p. 25.

Contemporary Review, fall, 2006, review of Islamic Imperialism, p. 402.

Economist, April 27, 1991, review of Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography, p. 94.

Foreign Affairs, November 1, 1996, William B. Quandt, review of Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security.

Historian, fall, 2007, Jonathan Berkey, review of Islamic Imperialism, p. 513.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 1998, Akram F. Khater, review of Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians,’ p. 38; winter, 2000, Cathlyn Mariscotti, review of Empires of the Sand, p. 80; summer, 2006, William E. Watson, review of Islamic Imperialism, p. 135.

Israel Studies, spring, 2002, Isaiah Friedman, review of Empires of the Sand, p. 222.

Los Angeles Times, October 19, 2003, review of Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest, p. 16.

Middle East, March 1, 2000, Fred Rhodes, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. I: From Community to State, p. 40; June 1, 2001, Fred Rhodes, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. II: From War to Peace?, p. 41; May 1, 2002, Fred Rhodes, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. III: Problems of Collective Identity, p. 40; November 1, 2003, Fred Rhodes, review of Israel, the Hashemites, and the Palestinians: The Fateful Triangle, p. 64.

Middle Eastern Studies, July 1, 1995, Stephanie Cronin, review of Non-conventional-weapons Proliferation in the Middle East: Tackling the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Capabilities, p. 653; October 1, 2000, Neill Lochery, review of Fabricating Israeli History, p. 216.

Middle East Journal, fall, 2000, Richard W. Bulliett, review of Empires of the Sand, p. 667; winter, 2006, Caldwell Bailey, review of Islamic Imperialism, p. 617.

Middle East Quarterly, fall, 2002, Alan Dowty, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. I, p. 73; fall, 2002, Dov Waxman, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. II, p. 73; fall, 2002, Dov Waxman, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. III, p. 74; fall, 2007, Robert Spencer, review of Islamic Imperialism, p. 79.

National Interest, spring, 2000, "But the Patient Died," p. 132.

New York Times Book Review, May 5, 1991, Peter Grose, review of Saddam Hussein, p. 21; January 24, 1993, H.D.S. Greenway, review of The Gulf Conflict, 1990-91: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order, p. 2; December 11, 1999, Richard Bernstein, "Romantic Notions of Mideast History Challenged"; February 13, 2000, "Carving up the Desert: How the ‘Long 19th Century’ Helped Shape the Modern Middle East," p. 33.

Political Science Quarterly, fall, 1993, Scott D. Sagan, review of The Gulf Conflict, 1990-1991, p. 547.

Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1999, review of Empires of the Sand, p. 62.

Shofar, spring, 2001, Amitai Touval, review of In Search of Identity: Jewish Aspects in Israeli Culture, p. 122; spring, 2002, Scott D. Johnston, review of Israel: The First Hundred Years, Vol. I, p. 147.

ONLINE

King's College London Web site,http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ (July 16, 2008), faculty profile.

Yale University Press Web site,http://yalepress.yale.edu/ (July 16, 2008), author profile.

About this article

Karsh, Efraim 1953-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article