Summary of And Then All Hell Broke Loose

Two Decades in the Middle East

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And Then All Hell Broke Loose book summary
A seasoned Middle East correspondent shares his experience and hard-earned wisdom.


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9 Importance

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9 Style


Foreign correspondents trek into dangerous territory, braving language barriers, cultural hurdles and unfriendly officials – not to mention tear gas, rubber bullets and mortar rounds. Ideally, they bring back stories that help us understand faraway conflicts. NBC television journalist Richard Engel delivers a clear-eyed account of the Middle East’s two-decade descent into chaos. After graduating from Stanford in the 1990s, Engel worked in Egypt in the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood, moved to Jerusalem as the Second Intifada heated up and headed to Baghdad before the 2003 US invasion. Engel learned Arabic and gained an understanding of Middle Eastern cultures. Writing engagingly in short, clear sentences, he combines religious history and political context with on-the-ground observations and the occasional grisly detail. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Engel’s report those seeking insight into a contentious region.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the era of Arab strongmen ended,
  • How US blundering contributed to Middle Eastern chaos and
  • Why violent fundamentalists emerged as a powerful force in Islam.


After the “Big Men,” Chaos
The 1990s were the peak of the era of the “Arab big men,” ironfisted dictators who demanded fealty and murdered their opposition. This roster included Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Hafez al-Assad in Syria, Tunisia’s Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali and...
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About the Author

Richard Engel is chief foreign correspondent for NBC News. This is his third book about the Middle East.

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