Started in 1976, the Middle East Contemporary Survey has now been around long enough to serve not just as the leading reference volume on the politics of the region but as the place to trace the contemporary history of a topic or country. Want a blow-by-blow history of the Arab-Israeli negotiations or Saddam Husayn's Iraq? This is the place to turn for scrupulous and well-documented accounts. MECS also provides a showcase for Israeli scholarship on the Middle East: with only two exceptions (Lebanon and Turkey) all entries in this volume were prepared by Israelis. It remains a must purchase for libraries; serious analysts should gulp hard and come up with the quite reasonable purchase price.
In his overview of the year under review, 1993, Gideon Gera notes two "opposing tendencies," Arab-Israeli conciliation and an ever-stronger fundamentalist onslaught. The former subject receives coverage from many angles (Gera himself on the peace process, Barry Rubin on the U.S. role, Meir Litvak on the PLO and Hamas, Elie Rekhess on the West Bank and Gaza, Susan Rolef and Rekhess on Israel); the latter topic is primarily covered by Martin Kramer in his by now customary annual roundup of the world of Islam. Kramer's chapter is among the most eye-opening, for he deals at some length with topics hardly known at all in the West, such as the contest over who would fill the position of supreme Shi`i authority (marja`-e taqlid) and the growing international role of Hasan at-Turabi (dubbed here "a one-man Islamintern").