Michael Breen | mb2@mbreen.com

Middle East Notes. A collection of reviews and writing on the Middle East.

George W. Bush and the Gaddis Doctine. The effects of power on vanity are in full view in this apologia for Bush written by a star-struck John Lewis Gaddis: articulate, authoritative, absurd.

Christopher Booker: The Seven Basic Plots. Scheherazade is our mother, as one philosopher put it, and Don Quixote is our father. Why, really, are stories so important to us?

Nicholas Ostler: Empires of the Word. For Ostler, the human communities of history have served not warring kings and emperors but rather languages – and the careers of languages have much less to do with war than we might think.

Benedict Anderson: Imagined Communities. A deeply thought-provoking book on the subject of nationalism: its origins and its nature.

AC Grayling: The Heart of Things. Though the title might suggest acute insights, this is an unfulfilling compilation of essays in which style is valued over substance.