The Inner Sea

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Robert Fox is a respected journalist who has been covering world events since the late 1960’s. At present, Fox works for London’s DAILY TELEGRAPH as their Mediterranean correspondent. Four years in the making, THE INNER SEA was a monumental undertaking, based on a number of trips to the region. Besides offering a portrait of the contemporary period, Fox does a credible job of adding historical perspective to a region that is vastly misunderstood. The Mediterranean seems to have been cursed with dilemmas that constantly threaten to split it violently apart. Whereas in the past Northern Europe and the United States have been able to divorce themselves from the problems that have festered in the region, the future will not allow such detachment. What happens in the Mediterranean will eventually spill over into the industrialized West if perceptive and rational government action is not taken. Fox makes a strong case for how vital—yet frustrating—this region is to the world, both economically and politically.

The first section of the book deals with “The Northern Shores,” which includes Spain, France, Italy, the Adriatic region, Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. Of the more than five hundred pages of THE INNER SEA, Fox devotes three hundred pages to this section. Although intriguing, the portion of “The Northern Shores” that discusses Spain, France, and Italy merely whets the readers appetite for those countries located on the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The author writes with more urgency about the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the uneasy peace that exists between Greece and Turkey. The second section of the book concerns itself with “The Southern Shores”: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Malta. This section constitutes a mere ninety pages. Here Fox illuminates Libya’s position historically and as an irritant in recent years toward the West under Muammar al-Qaddafi. The most gripping part of THE INNER SEA is the last section, entitled “The Levant,” wherein Fox poignantly discusses the turmoil that exists within Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine. A complicated area of the world to unravel, but Fox does a remarkable job of sifting through what is propaganda and what is historical fact. For anyone who has ever been interested in informing themselves about the Mediterranean and its diverse peoples, THE INNER SEA is mandatory reading.