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Mackey, Sandra 1937-

MACKEY, Sandra 1937-

PERSONAL: Born September 13, 1937, in Oklahoma City, OK; daughter of Velt (a funeral director) and Verna (a funeral director; maiden name, Richie) Sherman; married Dan Michael Mackey (a physician), December 22, 1961; children: Michael Colin. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: Central State College (now University), Edmond, OK, B.A., 1958; University of Virginia, M.A., 1966. Politics: "In limbo." Religion: Presbyterian.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Helen Rees, 308 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02116.

CAREER: Writer and lecturer, 1978—. Commentator on the Middle East for various media organizations. Member of Atlanta Symphony Associates.

WRITINGS:

The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987, published with a new introduction, Norton (New York, NY), 2002.

Lebanon: Death of a Nation, Congdon & Weed (New York, NY), 1989.

Passion and Politics: The Turbulent World of the Arabs, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.

The Iranians: Persia, Islam, and the Soul of a Nation, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.

The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein, Norton (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor of articles and reviews to newspapers.

ADAPTATIONS: The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom was adapted to audio cassette.

SIDELIGHTS: Sandra Mackey's studies of the Middle East have led to several books, most notably The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein. Published in spring, 2002, the volume took on an increased sense of currency when President George W. Bush proposed a military action against Iraq on the basis of suspicions that President Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. "Before the United States intervenes in Iraq," Mackey was quoted in an online source, "Washington and the American people must understand the challenges of Iraq. Otherwise, the U.S., as it did in Vietnam, wanders unaware into the internal conflicts of another people, only to become trapped in old feuds it has never comprehended."

But it was the author's intent to write a comprehensive history of Iraq, not a political tract; and on that basis she succeeded, according to Fouad Ajami of the New York Times Book Review. "Readers will come to Mackey's book amid rumors of war," Ajami wrote in May, 2002. "They will read it for the history, but they will also read it to be instructed about the country and the regime that Washington is now (nearly) pledged to transform and overthrow. In the way of readers who know the broad outlines of the story, they will bring to this account their unease about stepping into a distant land burdened with a terrible history."

In the same review, Ajami faulted the author for asserting that the U.S. harbored thoughts of war supported by a coalition "of Zionists, hawks on Iraq and people on the Christian right" who "seem willing to continue to put the interests of Israel above the needs of the United States." War with Iraq, in the author's words, will cause the U.S. to be "sucked into the resentments of the Arab world, the hostilities of the Iraqis, and the challenge of nation-building in what has become an intensely tribal society at the core of American vital interests in the oil-rich Persian Gulf." This is "muddled thinking," asserted Ajami, "because [Mackey] does not really understand the wellsprings of Arab radicalism."

Paul William Roberts, in his Washington Post Book World review, similarly found strengths and weakness in The Reckoning. In his article, Roberts commented on the overall tenor of Middle East reporting, saying that the U.S. media more often than not act as "little more than propagandists and apologists for the largely Western-held—and U.S.-led—position that Iraq merely got what was coming to it" in the Gulf War. Mackey, the critic continued, "a superb journalist, … has always been one of the most notable exceptions to the rule of a dumbed-down media, and in The Reckoning she attempts to provide the context without which no discussion of Iraq can usefully take place." Roberts also felt the author "does an excellent job of portraying the birth of modern Iraq from the ashes of Ottoman Mesopotamia" though she "fails to take into account the very historical forces she presents so well, acting as if the future were all contained in the past, rather than shaped by the past." A Publishers Weekly contributor summed up the Reckoning by saying "this book sounds an important cautionary note."

Mackey told CA: "With its great petroleum resources and its emotions and complexities, the Middle East is central to Western interests. Because of its volatility, however, the area seems unintelligible to most westerners. What I attempt to do in my writing is to create a pattern for understanding people and events in the Middle East. The key to unraveling the enigmatic Saudis or the baffling Iranians is to engage the reader in the psychology and the society and, only then, begin to explore the political ramifications for the Middle East and for the West."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, July, 1989, review of Lebanon: Death of a Nation, p. 1865; May 1, 1996, review of The Iranians: Persia, Islam, and the Soul of a Nation, p. 1486.

Book Report, November, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 62.

Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1987.

Choice, December, 2002, review of The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein, p. 689.

Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 1987, review of The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom, p. 34; January 5, 1993, review of Passion and Politics: The Turbulent World of the Arabs, p. 11.

Commonweal, November 3, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 602.

Economist, July 20, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 10.

Foreign Affairs, no. 5, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 221; September, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 155.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 752; April 1, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 510.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, January, 1992, review of The Saudis (audio version), p. 49.

Library Journal, July, 1987, review of The Saudis, p. 88; July, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 95; November 1, 1992, review of Passion and Politics, p. 117; May 1, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 110; April 15, 2002, Nader Entessar, review of The Reckoning, p. 110.

London Review of Books, October 1, 1987, review of The Saudis, p. 21.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 3, 1993, review of Passion and Politics, p. 2; July 7, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 3.

Middle East Journal, winter, 1989, review of The Saudis, p. 134; autumn, 1993, review of Passion and Politics, p. 717.

Middle East Quarterly, March, 1997, review of The Iranians, p. 88.

Nation, November 11, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 32.

New York Times, July 20, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. C22.

New York Times Book Review, July 12, 1987, review of The Saudis, p. 13; July 23, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 3; January 20, 1991, review of The Saudis, p. 32; May 12, 1991, review of Lebanon, p. 34; December 13, 1992, review of Passion and Politics, p. 7; August 25, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 16; May 3, 1998, review of The Iranians, p. 32; May 19, 2002, Fouad Ajami, "Iraq and the Thief of Baghdad"; March 30, 2003, Scott Veale, review of The Reckoning, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, June 9, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 47; April 19, 1991, review of Lebanon, p. 64; October 12, 1992, review of Passion and Politics, p. 58; April 1, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 64; April 15, 2002, review of The Reckoning, p. 53.

Reference and Research Book News, August, 1989, review of The Saudis, p. 6; December, 1989, review of Lebanon, p. 6.

School Library Journal, January, 1990, review of Lebanon, p. 129.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 20, 1991, review of The Saudis, p. 12.

Virginia Quarterly Review, autumn, 2002, review of The Reckoning, p. 130.

Washington Post Book World, October 23, 1988, review of The Saudis, p. 16; August 4, 1996, review of The Iranians, p. 7l; June 2, 2002, Paul William Roberts, "His Way," p. 3.

online

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs,http://www.ci.chi.il.us/ (July 15, 2002).*

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