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Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years
Bernard Lewis
0684832801
August 1997
Paperback
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Book Review
To gain a better understanding of contemporary Middle Eastern culture and society, which is steeped in tradition, one should look closely at its history. Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East, spans 2000 years of this region's history, searching in the past for answers to questions that will inevitably arise in the future.

Drawing on material from a multitude of sources, including the work of archaeologists and scholars, Lewis chronologically traces the political, economical, social, and cultural development of the Middle East, from Hellenization in antiquity to the impact of westernization on Islamic culture. Meticulously researched, this enlightening narrative explores the patterns of history that have repeated...



Striking Back
Aaron J. Klein
1400064279
Dec 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Told in remarkable detail, author Klein (Time's Jerusalem correspondent) chronicles the tragic Israeli hostage massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the secret assassination campaign that followed. The execution of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by members of Black September is presented as the result of the colossal ineptitude of West German and Bavarian officials. From this horrific event, the author departs on a fascinating examination of the Israeli response-a shadow war in which "Mossad combatants...were charged with carrying out the assassination orders, which had been passed down from Golda Meir to each successive prime minister." The Mossad quickly identified assassination targets for their involvement in the Munich Massacre; as the program evolved, however, the Mossad's goals expanded, creating a...


Man in the Shadows : Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man Who Led the Mossad
Efraim Halevy
031233771X
April 4, 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Never mind the dramatic title and jacket: readers expecting fireworks from the former head of the Israeli secret service will be disappointed. Written with the dispassion of an intelligence report, Halevy's memoir turns out to be a 20-year political history that includes much secret maneuvering but little skullduggery. Born in London in 1934, Halevy joined the Mossad in 1961 and quickly moved up to become a deputy division chief. His book opens in 1988-89, when the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Kuwait suddenly changed the terms of Mideastern politics. The U.S. increased pressure on Israel to settle its Palestinian problem, and the first intifada heated up. Diplomatic progress was glacial; most of it involved careful political negotiations, dully detailed. The text perks up when Halevy becomes head...


Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
Michael R. Gordon
0375422625
March 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
On one level, narrator Wasson's mostly neutral delivery is apt. The authors' dispassionate prose imparts their impeccably researched story of the 2003 Iraq invasion—from concept to insurgency. Sourced at the highest levels, Cobra II captures the fog of war and war planning. But Wasson's read too often feels routine, as if recounting a local board meeting. Because he renders the numerous players and backdrops with equal tones, differentiating between them can be a challenge. This style of narration creates an anti-tension when juxtaposed with the book's revelations that an invasion plan was being formed not long after September 11, despite administration denials. Strictly supervising the plan was defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was intent on transforming the military into a lighter, leaner force....


The Crisis of Islam
Bernard W. Lewis
0812967852
Mar 2004
Paperback
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Book Review
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, many Americans yearned to understand why Muslim extremists felt such passionate animosity toward the Western world, particularly the United States. Since that historic attack there have been many books and discussions about this very question, but few of them offer such a readable and relevant response as this excellent offering by renowned historian Bernard Lewis (What Went Wrong?). For modern Westerners, Islam is an especially foreign religion and culture to understand. For instance, Westerners typically dismiss things as unimportant when using the expression "that’s history." But for those raised in Muslim households, history—even ancient history—is just as important (if not more important) as the present. And to better understand the hostilities rooted in this...


History of the Modern Middle East
William L. Cleveland
0813340489
July 2004
Textbook Paperback
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Book Description
Paperback: 592 pages Publisher: Westview Press; 2nd edition (November 1, 1999) Language: English ISBN: 0813334896 Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.0 x 1.2 inches The Middle East is such a multi-faced region with such a rich historical legacy that even people who strive to be well-informed cannot help but feel bewildered at its cultural, political, and religious complexity. Given the blustering aggressiveness of the post-September 11 U.S. policy toward the region, however, Americans owe it to themselves to become far more familiar with the complexities of the Middle East than has been our wont up to now. Popular magazine articles that attempt to "explain" Islamic rage as the result of a "fear of modernity" or "jealousy of the west's freedoms" may as well bear a stamp proclaiming their authorship by the "Ministry of...


Three Cups of Tea : One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations . . . One School at a Time
Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
0670034827
March 2, 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world,...


The Reckoning
Sandra Mackey
0393324281
Mar 2003
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
A journalist who has long covered the Middle East, Mackey destroys the myth that toppling Saddam Hussein will solve Iraq's problems and America's. She clearly traces the complex and diverse history of the country from its biblical roots to the present day. The most salient feature of the country, she argues strongly, is its fragility: Iraq is a patchwork of peoples (both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, as well as Kurds) that hangs together by a thread. Without addressing how these peoples can form a national identity, the author claims, a post-Saddam Iraq could be worse than the Balkans. But even though much of the book centers on Iraq's long history, it is the author's account of the past 40 years that is the most instructive. While much of the information about Saddam has been presented elsewhere, Mackey summarizes...


Modern Middle East: A History
James L. Gelvin
0195167899
July 2004
Textbook Paperback
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Book Description
In the wake of 11 September 2001, there has been much talk about the inevitable clash between "East" and "West." This book presents an alternative approach to understanding the genealogy of contemporary events. By taking students and the general reader on a guided tour of the past five hundred
years of Middle Eastern history, this book examines how the very forces associated with global "modernity" have shaped social, economic, cultural, and political life in the region. Beginning with the first glimmerings of the current international state and economic systems in the sixteenth century,
The Modern Middle East: A History explores the impact of imperial and imperialist legacies, the great nineteenth-century transformation, cultural continuities and upheavals, international diplomacy, economic booms and busts, the...


The Great War for Civilisation
Robert Fisk
1400041511
Nov 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Combining a novelist's talent for atmosphere with a scholar's grasp of historical sweep, foreign correspondent Fisk (Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon) has written one of the most dense and compelling accounts of recent Middle Eastern history yet. The book opens with a deftly juxtaposed account of Fisk's two interviews with Osama bin Laden. In the first, held in Sudan in 1993, bin Laden declared himself "a construction engineer and an agriculturist." He had no time to train mujahideen, he said; he was busy constructing a highway. In the second, held four years later in Afghanistan, he declared war on the Saudi royal family and America.Fisk, who has lived in and reported on the Middle East since 1976, first for the (London) Times and now for the Independent, possesses deep knowledge of...


The Assassins' Gate : America in Iraq
George Packer
0374299633
October 15, 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
[Signature]Reviewed by Christopher HitchensIt is extremely uncommon for any reporter to read another's work and to find that he altogether recognizes the scene being described. Reading George Packer's book, I found not only that I was remembering things I had forgotten, but also that I was finding things that I ought to have noticed myself. His book rests on three main pillars: analysis of the intellectual origins of the Iraq war, summary of the political argument that preceded and then led to it, and firsthand description of the consequences on the ground. In each capacity, Packer shows himself once more to be the best chronicler, apart perhaps from John Burns of the New York Times, that the conflict has produced. (I say "once more" because some of this material has already appeared in the New Yorker.)A very strong opening...


My Forbidden Face
Latifa
1401359256
Jan 2001
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
Readers who want to know what life was really like when the Taliban ruled Kabul should turn off CNN and read this book. Latifa (who writes under a pseudonym) was a 16-year-old aspiring journalist when her brother rushed home one day in late 1996 with word that the white flag of the Taliban flew over their school and mosque. She writes, "We knew the Taliban were not far away... but no one truly believed they would manage to enter Kabul." The bizarre edicts of the women-suppressing regime slowly become a reality: women weren't allowed outside the home unless they were shrouded in a "chadri" (which covers the face and arms, unlike a burka, which covers the entire body and according to Latifa is worn only in distant provinces) and accompanied by a male relative. "A girl is not allowed to converse with a young man....


What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam
John L. Esposito
0195157133
Nov 2002
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Georgetown professor Esposito has written an excellent primer on all aspects of Islam. The question-and-answer format allows readers to skip ahead to areas that interest them, including hot-button issues such as "Why are Muslims so violent?" or "Why do Muslim women wear veils and long garments?" In his answers, which are anywhere from a paragraph to several pages long, Esposito elegantly educates the reader through what the Qur'an says, how Muslims are influenced by their local cultures, and how the unique politics of Islamic countries affects Muslims' views. All three elements contribute to a fuller understanding of Islam. For instance, in answering the question on veiling, Esposito accurately clarifies that though the Qur'an instructs believers to be modest, it does not require head coverings. He continues by...


All the Shah's Men : An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror
Stephen Kinzer
0471678783
August 12, 2004
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
With breezy storytelling and diligent research, Kinzer has reconstructed the CIA's 1953 overthrow of the elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, who was wildly popular at home for having nationalized his country's oil industry. The coup ushered in the long and brutal dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah, widely seen as a U.S. puppet and himself overthrown by the Islamic revolution of 1979. At its best this work reads like a spy novel, with code names and informants, midnight meetings with the monarch and a last-minute plot twist when the CIA's plan, called Operation Ajax, nearly goes awry. A veteran New York Times foreign correspondent and the author of books on Nicaragua (Blood of Brothers) and Turkey (Crescent and Star), Kinzer has combed memoirs, academic works, government documents and news stories to...


The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict
Walter Laqueur (Editor)
0140297138
August 2001
Paperback
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Book Description
The Israel-Arab Reader is a thorough and up-to-date guide to the continuing crisis in the Middle East. It covers the full spectrum of the Israel-Arab conflict-from the earliest days, through the wars and peacemaking efforts, up to the Israel-PLO and Israel-Jordan peace accords. This comprehensive reference includes speeches, letters, articles, and reports dealing with all the major interests in the area from all of the relevant political parties and world leaders. Completely updated, consolidated, and revised throughout, The Israel-Arab Reader contains new sections on the Wye River agreement, and other recent developments, making it the essential resource on the ongoing conflict.

Historians and Middle East specialists Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin have arranged the material chronologically and...


What Went Wrong
Bernard W. Lewis
0060516054
Jan 2003
Paperback
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Book Review
Bernard Lewis is the West's greatest historian and interpreter of the Near East. Books such as The Middle East and The Arabs in History are required reading for anybody who hopes to understand the region and its people. Now Lewis offers What Went Wrong?, a concise and timely survey of how Islamic civilization fell from worldwide leadership in almost every frontier of human knowledge five or six centuries ago to a "poor, weak, and ignorant" backwater that is today dominated by "shabby tyrannies ... modern only in their apparatus of repression and terror." He offers no easy answers, but does provide an engaging chronicle of the Arab encounter with Europe in all its military, economic, and cultural dimensions. The most dramatic reversal, he says, may have occurred in the sciences: "Those who had been disciples now...


Guests of the Ayatollah : The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam
Mark Bowden
0871139251
April 25, 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. SignatureReviewed by Philip CaputoWith Iran fingered in the latest National Security Assessment as America's number one enemy, Mark Bowden's new book is particularly timely. Guests of the Ayatollah chronicles the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by student militants, who held 66 American staffers hostage from November 1979 till January 1981, seizing this nation's attention in the process.In the aftermath of 9/11, with wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, that event seems to belong to the remote past, but as Bowden points out, it was "America's first confrontation with Islamo-fascism," while the hostages (who were released alive) were "the first victims of the inaptly named War on Terror."Although some may dispute those points, his portrayal of the hostage takers and their fanatical...


Vengeance
George Jonas
0743291646
Nov 2005
Paperback
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Book Description
Vengeance is a true story that reads like a novel. It is the account of five ordinary Israelis, selected to vanish into "the cold" of espionage secrecy -- their mission to hunt down and kill the PLO terrorists responsible for the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.This is the account of that secret mission, as related by the leader of the group -- the first Mossad agent to come out of "deep cover" and tell the story of a heroic endeavor that was shrouded in silence and speculation for years. He reveals the long and dangerous operation whose success was bought at a terrible cost to the idealistic volunteer agents themselves."Avner" was the leader of that team, handpicked by Golda Meir to avenge the monstrous crime of Munich. He and his young companions, cut off from any direct...


Concise History of the Middle East
Arthur Goldschmidt
0813342759
July 2005
Textbook Paperback
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-Lawrence Davidson, West Chester University Praise for earlier editions
"An eminently readable and comprehensive text that gives an accurate and analytical account of Near East history." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

-Gina Cirali, Fordham University
"Excellent. Nice active voice, engaging, comprehensive, balanced. Particularly the coverage on early Islam." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

See all Editorial Reviews


Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire
Caroline Finkel
0465023967
February 7, 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
What Finkel calls the "old" narrative of the Ottoman Empire is simple to relate: "it rose, declined, and fell." An exotic parade of salacious sultans, grand viziers and duplicitous eunuchs inhabit the sultry harems and domed palaces of Istanbul—at least in our imaginations. Finkel, a long-time resident of Turkey and Ottoman scholar, relates a "new" narrative of empire that properly accounts for the richness and complexity of the Ottoman state over nearly seven centuries. By presiding over their multiethnic empire for so long, and ushering it from medievalism to modernity, the Ottomans should be ranked alongside the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs, she argues. That they are overlooked is the fault of Western historians who have peered at their subjects through the lens of their own prejudices. Finkel's striking...


Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
David Fromkin
0805068848
October 2001
Paperback
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Jack Miles, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Wonderful . . . No book published in recent years has more lasting relevance to our understanding of the Middle East."

Review
"Wonderful...No book published in recent years has more lasting relevance to our understanding of the Middle East."-Jack Miles, Los Angeles Book Review

"Extraordinarily ambitious, provocative and vividly written...Fromkin unfolds a gripping tale of diplomatic double-dealing, military incompetence and political upheaval."-Reid Beddow, Washington Post Book World

"Ambitious and splendid...An epic tale of ruin and disillusion...of great men, their large deeds and even larger follies."-Fouad Ajami, The Wall Street Journal


Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs : Official Companion Book to the Exhibition sponsored by National Geographic
Zahi Hawass
0792238737
June 1, 2005
Hardcover
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From Booklist
Tutankhamen's reign, though brief, is historically significant because it coincided with restoration of the traditional Egyptian pantheon, which had been suppressed in an experiment in radical monotheism under the famous pharaoh Akhenaton. But it's the trove discovered in 1922 that has elevated Tutankhamen into an archaeological superstar, invariably drawing stadium-size crowds to museums that periodically exhibit its objects. A selection of about 130 items (without the spectacular coffins but including grave goods from other kings of Tutankhamen's dynasty) will tour four U.S. cities from 2005 to 2007: this book is the sanctioned companion to the exhibition. Written by one of the premier names in Egyptology, it closely describes the physical and symbolic attributes of each object and explains its purpose in the afterlife....


Leap of Faith
Queen Noor
1401359485
Mar 2005
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
Anyone who loved The King and I will readily warm to the love story of Queen Noor and the late King Hussein of Jordan. Born in America in 1951 as Lisa Halaby, Noor came from a wealthy, well-connected family and was part of Princeton's first co-ed class. Her father's aviation business produced a chance meeting with King Hussein in 1976, and a year or two later Noor realized the king was courting her. He was 41, she was 26. The rumor mills buzzed: was she the next Grace Kelly? Before long, the king renamed her Noor (light in Arabic), and she converted to Islam. They were married in the summer of 1978. From this point on, her story is mostly his, mainly covering his attempts to broker peace in the Middle East. There are meetings with Arafat, Saddam Hussein, American presidents and other leaders. Noor details...


Princess
Jean Sasson
0967673747
Mar 2001
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
In this consistently gripping work, a Literary Guild alternate selection in cloth, the American-born Sasson recounts the life story of a Saudi princess she met while living in Saudi Arabia, offering a glimpse of the appalling conditions endured by even privileged women in the Middle East. Photos. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Library Journal
One must keep in mind the context of time and place when reading this emotional and exciting book to alleviate some of the horror of the injustices endured by the women described here. Equality of men and women has not worked out in any society, but the status of women in Islam is more problematic in that canon law is applied according to the...


Islamic Imperialism : A History
Efraim Karsh
0300106033
April 11, 2006
Hardcover
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From Booklist
Middle East scholar Karsh surveys for a general audience the region's Islamic political past. Parallel to his narrative, Karsh frequently contrasts the universalistic proclamations of Islam with cycles of imperial consolidation and fragmentation. After recounting the Prophet Muhammad's religio-political establishment of Islam, and the discord about his legacy that continues today, Karsh narrates the battles over Muhammad's caliphate that eventuated in the Umayyad and Abbasid Empires. Karsh's commentary often looks forward to contemporary ideologues of Islam who ransack history to justify grievances. In Karsh's coverage, the irruption of the Crusaders into the Levant hardly provoked a jihad to eject them; that occurred, in his account, through politically ordinary processes of empire building, eventually by the celebrated...


Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods
H. John Poole, Ray L. Smith (Foreword)
0963869574
November 2004
Paperback
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Gen. Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Ret.), November 2004
"John Poole has ... captured the nature of the new threat and ... produced a required read for our troopers’ packs."

North County Times (Southern California), 28 November 2004
"[This book] ... is a comprehensive interpretation of Muslim extremists’ tactics, theory, and thinking."

See all Editorial Reviews

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