Three Kings

The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II

The “absorbing and often provocative” (Booklist) backstory to America’s current predicament in the Middle East, with frightening relevance for the distant prospect of peace and stability in the region today

“Gardner’s meticulous review and perceptive analysis provides a rich background for understanding what is unfolding today, and is likely to persist.” —Noam Chomsky

In an account of the U.S. role in the Middle East, Three Kings is an “erudite, persuasively argued, and lucid” (Publishers Weekly) narrative of America’s deep and tangled relationships in the region.

Three Kings reveals a story of America’s scramble for political influence, oil concessions, and a new military presence based on airpower and generous American aid to shaky regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Iraq. Deftly weaving together three decades of U.S. moves in the region, Lloyd Gardner delves into early American efforts to support the influence the Saudi regime (including the creation of Dhahran air base, the target of Osama bin Laden’s first terrorist attack in 1996); the CIA-engineered coup in Iran; Nasser’s Egypt; and, finally, the rise of Iraq as a major petroleum power.

As American policy makers and military planners grapple with a radically new and rapidly shifting political landscape in this vital region, Gardner uncovers “valuable new factual evidence . . . ably guid[ing] the reader through the perilous chess game that has played out in the region since World War II” (Kirkus Reviews).


“Uncovering valuable new factual evidence, Gardner ably guides the reader through the perilous chess game that has played out in the region since World War II.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Devastatingly effective.”
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power
“Anyone who wants to understand the roots of U.S. Cold War foreign policy and our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should begin with this fine book.”
—Christian G. Appy, author of Patriots

Books by Lloyd C. Gardner

The Long Road to Baghdad
A History of U.S. Foreign Policy from the 1970s to the Present

Lloyd C. Gardner

Killing Machine
The American Presidency in the Age of Drone Warfare

Lloyd C. Gardner

The Road to Tahrir Square
Egypt and the United States from the Rise of Nasser to the Fall of Mubarak

Lloyd C. Gardner

The War on Leakers
National Security and American Democracy, from Eugene V. Debs to Edward Snowden

Lloyd C. Gardner

Goodreads Reviews