I'm afraid I have never been able to summon up much interest in Middle Eastern politics. Remiss of me, I know, but that's the way it is. And, lest you think that this is going to be a book review, let me hasten to say that I have not read Obadiah Shoher's Samson Blinded; so this post is going to be a discussion of the book's publication history and reception rather than its contents as read and considered by me.
The author, by the way, is pseudonymous. He is said to be a veteran Israeli politician who dealt with security issues for most of his career. The subtitle of his book is A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict, and it is said that the book 'dissects honestly the problems accumulated since the Jews returned to Palestine. Espousing political rationalism, it deplores both Jewish and Muslim myths, and argues for efficiency and separating politics from moralism.'
I heard about this book via an email from someone acting as the book's publicist. He tells me that Google and Yahoo have already banned the web site for this book from their ad programs because of 'unacceptable content'. Well, if you want to consider whether this decision is sensible or not, you can go to what I presume is the web site in question and take a look for yourself. You can also download the whole book.
There are a couple of things that interest me here. The first is that the Samson Blinded is published by Booksurge. Now Booksurge is a division of Amazon, and it offers various services to authors and publishers, the chief of which are publishing and distribution facilities. In that they are not unlike a dozen others, providing a route to market for anyone with a completed ms and a few dollars to spare, but they would be, one hopes, more efficient than some. In any event, they do not seem (so far) to have been bothered about publishing a book which is proving to be controversial and which is getting a somewhat mixed reception.
The book is available through the UK branch of Amazon, but you will learn a great deal more if you go to the relevant page on Amazon.com. There you will find a statement from the author, and nearly 20 reviews which range all the way from condemnation to warm support; you will find the occasional mouth-frother among them, but most of the reviews I would classify as considered and thoughtful.
So, it seems that it is perfectly possible to publish a controversial book through Booksurge, set up a web site, and generate a fair amount of discussion of same, without spending more than -- what, a thousand dollars? Let no one say that this is not the age of opportunity. Which is important, given that the big publishers are becoming increasingly wary (or so it seems to me) of publishing anything which might land them in hot water.