BOOK REVIEWS

The 1300 Year’s War: Volume 1

In the introduction to The 1300 Year’s War, author Robert Maddock states: “This volume makes comparisons between Christianity and Islam and follow [sic] their historical evolution and the wars between them.” Thus, one would expect a historical narrative outlining the religious wars between Muslims and Christians, with doctrinal backgrounds in both faiths. Most of this text, however, is dedicated to critiquing Islam and Muslims.

The bulk of the book (about two-thirds) focuses on Muslim history and Islamic doctrine, promoting many misconceptions. For example, the author claims that “The Koran advocates destruction of unbelievers, infidels and Islamic backsliders. They will not quit until Sharia law governs the entire world”; however, only a small fraction of Muslims read the Koran this way. A discussion on Paradise repeats the fanciful notion of virgins awaiting Muslim men, an idea at odds with mainstream Muslim belief from pre-classical to contemporary times.

The author also notes that according to the Koran, women have “half the value of men” without including important historical context: Most historians believe that giving women even partial rights in 7th century Arabia was progressive, especially given that American women were not formally allowed to vote until the early 20th century.

Maddock includes only one chapter on Christianity and Judaism, and some chapters (such as those on development of warfare, modern economics, brain science, and the Vikings) seem opaque to the narrative’s objectives.

The author’s claims are backed up by problematic sources. References from Arab historian Ibn Ishaq are misquoted, and the translation is not cited. Other references (e.g. Huntington) have been widely debunked by academicians. Tracing Maddock’s web sources leads generally to pages no longer uploaded. Most of his available Wikipedia references caution readers of the lack of validation and the need for additional citations.

Futhermore, the author uses George Sale’s 1734 translation of the Koran (the current academic standard is Arberry’s 1955 translation); Sale writes in his introduction that Islam is a false religion. Other translations (e.g. Answering Islam) stem from organizations that promote converting Muslims into Christians.

Given such issues, readers interested in exploring Muslim beliefs and practices will do best to seek out other volumes, such as Andrew Rippin’s Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (an academic standard now in its fifth edition) and Ali-Karamali’s Demystifying Shariah.

"An intriguing exploration of Operation Wappen that gets bogged down by political tangents."

OPERATION WAPPEN

A WAR THAT NEVER WAS

A writer offers the history of a failed CIA/MI6 coup in 1950s Syria.

It was not until about a half-century later that Maddock, a Marine veteran who participated in early Cold War operations, found evidence of his potential involvement in a planned joint CIA/MI6 coup in Syria code-named Operation Wappen. Fearing the encroachment of communism in the Middle East, the United States spent millions of dollars bribing Syrian military officers in anticipation of the forthcoming 1957 coup. After some of these officers told the Syrian government, the U.S. denied involvement, and, in the words of Maddock’s book subtitle, the failed overthrow became “A War That Never Was.” Though Operation Wappen is the author’s titular focus, the first half of the book attempts to place the attempted coup in the context of not just Cold War history, but also world history spanning nearly two centuries. The true origins of the Cold War are traced by the author to the death of Gen. George Patton. An entire chapter is devoted to espionage conspiracy theories, including cyanide spray guns, that question the official government account that Patton died in a car crash. While referencing problematic sources (such as Killing Patton by former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, and Wikipedia, which is cited throughout the volume), the work provides speculations about the general’s death that fit into the author’s personal Cold War recollections, which accompany his story of the failed Syrian coup. His other dissections of past events have a distinctly conservative ideological bent that may turn off some readers in his attempt to challenge modern “revisionist” historians hampered by “political correctness.” Maddock’s analysis of American history, for example, emphasizes the advantages held by an “advanced civilization” over “primitive” Native Americans while his appraisal of the Middle East bluntly describes “the 1300 Years’ War” between Muslims and the West. His examination of Operation Wappen, including his personal experiences with the Marines, adds a captivating chapter to the history of the Cold War in the Middle East. But it’s a story often muddled by politicized and sometimes irrelevant historical analysis.

An intriguing exploration of Operation Wappen that gets bogged down by political tangents. (afterword, index)