Americans Abroad: Exodus, Economy-Class

When the fighting erupted, U.S. officialdom in the Middle East carried out a mini-exodus worthy of a latter-day Moses. In the face of the most widespread and violent anti-American outbursts in history, more than 20,000 U.S. civilians fled the area by cab and cattle boat, cruise ship and jetliner. About 35,000 Americans—mostly oil-company employees, military personnel and foreign service officers—remained behind, but U.S. consulates and embassies were ready to evacuate them as well should Arab hysteria continue to rise.

The fever was high enough already. Cascading around the U.S. embassies and...

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