Kenneth Pollack has been an expert on Middle Eastern military and political affairs for over 30 years. A longtime Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution, where he ran the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, he is currently a Resident Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute. His other books on the political and military of the Middle East include the bestsellers The Threatening Storm and The Persian Puzzle.
This is a path-breaking volume on an uncomfortable topic: Arab military failure. Kenneth Pollack is the model of the engaged scholar, whose extensive field experience on today's battlefields complements his knowledge of military affairs and the Arab world more broadly. The volume is lucid, comprehensive and fascinating. His conclusions about the relationship between culture and military effectiveness will be controversial, but they are compellingly put and will set the terms of debate for years to come. * Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins-SAIS * Armies of Sand belongs in the library of every military professional serving in the Middle East, whether Western or Arab. It is a unique blend of military history and social science that comprehensively explains the military effectiveness of our Arab friends and foes alike. Pollack has courageously and objectively tackled the sensitive subject of culture, which we ignore at our peril. Armed with its insights, future commanders might avoid the surprises and frustrations that have long been the hallmarks of military operations in this theater of persistent conflict. * Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, U.S. Army (Ret.); Commander of Coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, 2015-2016 * Few if any military analysts know as much, or have thought as deeply, about Arab armies as has Ken Pollack. In Armies of Sand-a masterpiece of political science-he distills a lifetime of learning to grapple with the most important and most difficult questions that lie at the intersection of technology, culture and politics. Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of warfare in the Middle East. * Max Boot, author of Invisible Armies * Ken Pollack argues convincingly that efforts to uncover causes of military success or failure must begin far from the battlefield. He shines new light on social, economic, political, and cultural impediments to improving military effectiveness in Arab states. His argument that the influence of culture is predominant is certain to generate introspection among Arab leaders and their overseas partners who support their military reform efforts. This should be read and debated by readers who want to understand better this complex and important region. * H.R. McMaster, Former National Security Advisor and author of Dereliction of Duty * A masterful, wide-ranging, compelling study of why Arab armies have typically fared poorly in combat. With this certain-to-be classic work, Ken Pollack solidifies his position as one of the world's foremost scholars on Middle Eastern military and political affairs. * General David Petraeus (US Army, Ret.), former Director of the CIA *