The ninth edition of this widely acclaimed text has been extensively revised to reflect the latest scholarship and the most recent events in the Middle East.
As an introduction to the history of this turbulent region from the beginnings of Islam to the present day, the book is distinguished by its clear style, broad scope, and balanced treatment. It focuses on the evolution of Islamic institutions and culture, the influence of the West, the modernization efforts of Middle Eastern governments, the struggle for political independence, the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the roles of Iraq and Iran in the post-9/11 Middle East, and more.
Arthur Goldschmidt, Jr., is professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Modern Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State and the recipient of the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the 2000 Middle East Studies Association Mentoring Award.
Lawrence Davidson is a professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of several books, including America’s Palestine and Islamic Fundamentalism.
A Blackstone Audio production.
Customer ReviewsSee All
"A Concise History of the Middle East"
Concise? Yes. Accurate? It seems so. Objective? IMHO, it leans towards a sympathetic view of Arab culture and Islam, but that may come with devoting one's professional life to the study of those topics. It gives one the impression that the authors don't want to offend any of their Middle Eastern connections with a more objective portrayal of Islam and the Prophet. Editorial comments and comparisons at times seem inconsistent with my experience.
Having lived in that part of the world for a few years, I tend to disagree with, inter alia, the slightly rosy depiction of the Prophet and the sometimes - to me, anyway - fawning descriptions of the tenets of Islam.
Some apparent inconsistencies appear. If I recall correctly, the authors state that Verdi wrote "Aida" to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal on commission from Ismael Pasha, Egypt's ruler. Others may disagree since it wasn't performed in 1869 when the canal opened. It was performed in the Cairo Opera House in 1871.
Periodically one encounters declarative sentences that attempt to differentiate Middle Eastern culture from Western culture that don't quite ring true. In one sequence the authors state that, in contrast to western cultures, Middle Eastern, or Arab culture emphasizes close family ties. That is a universal phenomenon on which I don't believe Arab culture has a lock. Comparisons such as that at times tend towards the simplistic.
Still and all, it is worth the price if you want to get a concise introduction to the entire history of the region on which the authors are obvious experts, something Western history textbooks gloss over and which I believe Westerners need to understand far better.
I expect to listen to it at least one more time to gain a firmer hold on the timelines and confluences of the various invaders with the locals. Since the Middle East was and still is a collision of almost innumerable influences and an avenue of conquest virtually every century, this book took on a massive topic and did pretty well with it.
I'm taking from it what I hoped for when I bought it: a firmer understanding of that region and its people.
I'll look for more works by the authors and will probably buy them.
The narrator is very good with a pleasant voice and makes for easy listening.
Very, very helpful
My understanding to the region, I believe, was good, hmmm, better than most. This book filled in a lifetime's worth of background and study in just a few hours. Over the course of a week, I listened to it twice. Pros: I shrinks a vast subject down into a digestible size and provides the perspective needed to understand why a billion people see things differently than us. That doesn't mean I now share or justify that view, but I understand why the Islamic world believes it has a grievance. I get it. And I can see that the West, in general, doesn't get it. The cons: This is in not an objective presentation. The author sides with/agrees/supports the grievance-point-of-view. I did not know that going in and would have preferred a more straightforward presentation; I'll make my own conclusions, thank you. The evils of Western and Zionist colonialism are repeatedly railed against, but the expansion of Islam from Medina to Morocco in the west and to the Philippines in the east is neither questioned or derided similarly; but as I said, the book isn't objective. The key point the author "doesn't agree with and therefore failed to present" is why Islam suddenly seemed to reject progress when it had done so much to preserve and advance it while the West frolicked through the Dark Ages. Why stop in the 16th Century? I would concede that all major religions chafe at the explanations science has proffered through the centuries, so we in the West are not immune, but western religions did eventually agree to "put up with" science, while the Middle East all but backtracked. I would have liked more discussion on progress. Other than that, I was very impressed with how much history was packed into such a small space. I promise you and the authors that I now look at the news and the region differently, very differently, indeed.