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This worthy addition to that distinctive genre of books written by political leaders still in office is part autobiography, part political history. King Abdullah stresses the dominant presence of his father, King Hussein, throughout his life, notes the formative influence of his schooling (Deerfield Academy in the United States and Sandhurst in the United Kingdom), records his many years of soldiering, and provides an insider’s view of the Jordanian royal family (including a circumspect account of King Hussein’s deathbed decision to change the succession from Abdullah’s uncle, Hassan, to him). The narrative is enriched by numerous firsthand accounts and appraisals of other political leaders, including Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, and Iraqis. The book, which went to press before the Arab uprisings, ends with a plea to seize the “last best chance” for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. The Hashemites of Jordan, long conditioned to ingratiate themselves with or defend themselves against stronger outsiders, are accustomed to explaining themselves to others. It is a family tradition: King Abdullah’s Our Last Best Chance follows King Hussein’s Uneasy Lies the Head (1962), both of which appeared after ten years on the throne.
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