In eleven dramatic years, Anwar Sadat changed history—not just that of Egypt, or of the Middle East, but of the entire world. As the architect of the 1973 war against Israel, he gained the support of other Arab nations and inspired the oil embargo that transformed the global economy. Following the war, however, he forever ended Arab aspirations of unity by making peace with Israel. Early in his presidency, Sadat jettisoned Egypt’s alliance with the Soviet Union and turned to the United States, thereby giving the West a crucial Cold War victory. Sadat’s historic tenure still resonates in the twenty-first century as the Islamic activists—whom he originally encouraged but who opposed his conciliatory policy toward Israel and ultimately played a role in his assassination—continue to foster activism, including the Muslim Brotherhood, today.
Thomas W. Lippman was stationed in the Middle East as a journalist during Sadat’s presidency and lived in Egypt in the aftermath of the October War. He knew Sadat personally, but only now, after the passage of time and the long-delayed release of the U.S. State Department’s diplomatic files, can Lippman assess the full consequences of Sadat’s presidency. Hero of the Crossing provides an eye-opening account of the profound reverberations of one leader’s political, cultural, and economic maneuverings and legacy.
Thomas W. Lippman is a journalist specializing in Middle Eastern affairs and American foreign policy. He is a former Middle East bureau chief for the Washington Post, as well the author of numerous magazine articles and books, including Egypt after Nasser: Sadat, Peace, and the Mirage of Prosperity; Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia; and, most recently, Saudi Arabia on the Edge: The Uncertain Future of an American Ally (Potomac Books, 2012).