The Closed Circle

An Interpretation of the Arabs


Pryce-Jones, David


Review on 23 June 2004 by Donald N. Anderson (a version of this review is on


Mr. Pryce-Jones has written an essential description of the honor-shame nexus that is so central to Arab culture. Those who view honor and shame as people in the West do, must read this book to understand the very different properties honor-shame has in this culture.


His description of power relationships is exemplary. He provides many examples of the dangerous consequences to which these power seeking conspiracies lead. The implications are discouraging, but having knowledge of probable consequences is much better than pursuing goals in ignorance. Perhaps we can then select goals and approaches that have some hope of success in this very different culture.


I only hope any of our diplomats charged with a Middle East assignment understand the content of this book. I have recommended this book strongly to all my friends who have any interest in the Middle East.