What role do ideas play in state-building and state behaviour? This book argues that government policies in both foreign relations and domestic politics must always be situated within a broader ideological and societal context. Imad Mansour analyses how governments in the contemporary Middle East have governed internally and acted externally based on societal narratives, narratives which bring together a variety of ideas about a society's history and place in the world. He argues that there is a dominant societal narrative that acts as a primary building block of statecraft, where statecraft is understood as an ongoing set of local, regional and global state-building processes. Mansour investigates the ways in which statecraft in the Middle East has been guided by narratives through a close historical reading and comparative discussion of the political behaviors of six states-Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran-in the second half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. His book demonstrates the analytical purchase of narratives in understanding statecraft and explains why governing governments' decisions need to be understood in complex ways.