“Gripping reading…an astute, fast-paced overview…[Engel] gives us sharp, unnerving snapshots.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Based on two decades of reporting, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent’s riveting story of the Middle East revolutions, the Arab Spring, war, and terrorism seen up-close—sometimes dangerously so.
When he was just twenty-three, a recent graduate of Stanford University, Richard Engel set off to Cairo with $2,000 and dreams of being a reporter. Shortly thereafter he was working freelance for Arab news sources and got a call that a busload of Italian tourists were massacred at a Cairo museum. This is his first view of the carnage these years would pile on. Over two decades Engel has been under fire, blown out of hotel beds, taken hostage. He has watched Mubarak and Morsi in Egypt arrested and condemned, reported from Jerusalem, been through the Lebanese war, covered the whole shooting match in Iraq, interviewed Libyan rebels who toppled Gaddafi, reported from Syria as Al-Qaeda stepped in, was kidnapped in the Syrian crosscurrents of fighting. He goes into Afghanistan with the Taliban and to Iraq with ISIS. In the page-turning And Then All Hell Broke Loose, he shares his adventure tale.
Engel takes chances, though not reckless ones, keeps a level head and a sense of humor, as well as a grasp of history in the making. Reporting as NBC’s Chief-Foreign Correspondent, he reveals his unparalleled access to the major figures, the gritty soldiers, and the helpless victims in the Middle East during this watershed time. We can experience the unforgettable suffering and despair of the local populations. Engel’s vivid description is intimate and personal. Importantly, it is a succinct and authoritative account of the ever-changing currents in that dangerous land.
Review From Customer
“Engel’s harrowing adventures make for gripping reading . . . he deftly uses them as a portal to look at how the Middle East has changed since he arrived in the region as a young reporter back in 1996. The result is a book that gives readers a brisk but wide-angled understanding of the calamities that have unfurled there over the last two decades . . . for readers looking for an astute, fast-paced overview, this book is a great explainer. . . . Mr. Engel, 42, gives us sharp, unnerving snapshots of events he witnessed and a visceral sense of the daily rhythms of life in Baghdad as the war turned increasingly chaotic . . . What makes Mr. Engel’s tactile eyewitness accounts particularly valuable is that they are fuel-injected with his knowledge of the history and the politics of the region. . . . Mr. Engel writes with great concision — honed, no doubt, by years of having to compress momentous stories into a few minutes on the evening news. (Michiko Kakutani The New York Times)
“The author’s quick-paced account is a thrilling adventure story laced with historical context to help readers make sense of the longstanding sectarian hatreds that propel the violence in Iraq and elsewhere. . . . No one can argue that Engel, now NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, missed the boat when he decided to head to the Middle East to cover what he believed would be his generation’s biggest news venue. ‘My ambition was to ride the train of history, and the train came rumbling right at me.’” (Associated Press)
“Brisk . . . Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, has written an absorbing book about his eventful career. . . . At heart, [the book] is a nerve-racking autobiography by a journalist on the front lines, covering wars and terrorism in Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Iraq and Syria. On another level, it’s an informative portrait of a troubled region, one that has been unduly influenced by charlatans and madmen and poorly served by two consecutive American presidents, Engel argues.” (The Kansas City Star)
“[Engel’s] fascinating new book . . . chronicles his often dangerous journey in a complicated neck of the woods. Engel was always restless, driven and filled with wanderlust. . . . Engel has proved to be a fearless reporter. He has covered every major crisis with incredible moxie. . . . Engel spends a large portion of his narrative deftly explaining to us these sectarian differences and their centuries-old history.” (The Jerusalem Post)
“Engel… has been in the Middle East, getting a viscerally up-close perspective on these world-historic events. And as this fast-paced and engaging new book makes clear, even if it hasn’t always been easy, Engels’ time in the Middle East has always been important.” (Salon.com)
“Engel offers an adventurous overview of the past, present and future of the area.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
“A deft personal account . . . a lucid, alarming overview of where the Middle East has been and where it is heading.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“As a print and broadcast journalist with his own boots on the ground in the Middle East for more than 20 years, Engel has seen it all . . . Now Engel takes a long view . . . His grasp of Middle East history is encyclopedic, yet Engel distills the major tenets of geopolitical and religious conflict into comprehensible and comprehensive terms. . . . Clear, candid, and concise, Engel’s overview of the ongoing battleground should be required reading for anyone desiring a thorough and informed portrait of what the past has created and what the future holds for the Middle East and the world at large.” (Booklist, starred review)
“Engel — who is NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent — offers a brisk, concise, often-hair-raising saga beginning with his early, fondly remembered years in Cairo, to the increasing bloodshed and intransigent policies, wars and terrorism of Jerusalem, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan . . . The book often reads like a thriller . . .” (Liz Smith New York Social Diary)