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100 Myths About the Middle East [Paperback]

Fred Halliday
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Mar 2005
In this much-needed and enlightening book Halliday debunks one hundred of the most commonly misconstrued 'facts' concerning the Middle East - in the political, cultural, social and historical spheres. He gets to the heart of each matter in a straightforward and simple manner that illuminates the issues without compromising their underlying complexities. The Israel-Palestine crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, the US-led Gulf invasions, the Afghan-Soviet conflict and other significant milestones in modern Middle East history come under scrutiny here, with conclusions that will surprise and enlighten many for going so seemingly and persuasively against the grain of commonly held (mis)perceptions.

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100 Myths About the Middle East + Two Hours That Shook the World: September 11, 2001 - Causes and Consequences
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Product details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Saqi Books (10 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863565298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863565298
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 784,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Fred Halliday ... seeks to provide a "moral vocabulary" for understanding the region through its incorporation into the contemporary world.' -- Church of England Newspaper

'Sometimes barbed, but often pithy and insightful.' -- Romford Recorder

A pithy and popularised rejection of much of the received wisdom about the Middle East -- Asian Affairs, March 2006

‘A writer of true calibre.’ -- The Independent

‘Fascinating reading … Challenging proverbial ‘wisdom’, pat answers and politically motivated lies' -- Jordan Times

‘In this pithy book Halliday tackles most of the myths in just one or two pages of tight argument.’ -- Saudi Gazette

‘one of the most welcome books published in the aftermath of 9/11.’ -- Bookseller

About the Author

Fred Halliday is professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and author of numerous books, including The World at 2000, World Politics and Two Hours that Shook the World. A leading authority on superpower relations, development issues, the Middle East and IR theory he is a prolific lecturer and broadcaster.

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First Sentence
In 1984 the British historians Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger edited a book with the challenging title The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1992). Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done 17 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another excellent work by Fred Halliday. Very informative on the mind set behind the myths.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK for beginners 9 May 2011
By Melike
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
it is definitely not the best book of Halliday. There are some explanations that I do not agree with him, yet the book is well organized for people who have no single idea about the Middle East. It's OK for those ones who still suppose that the main transport in Turkey is via camels. The glossary at the end is an amazing source to understand some vocabulary used in the press.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Middle Easterners should be reading 19 Nov 2005
By N. Y. HABASH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I very much enjoyed reading through this book. As a Palestinian reader I admit I approached it with some apprehension having experienced many negative portrayals of Arabs in the past even in books claiming to be neutral. The book was rather surprising in its frank discussion of myths about the Middle East many of which are believed by Middle Easterners about themselves and their neighbors. I especially liked the author's objective approach especially when dealing with issues of religious faith. I recommend it for any one interested in that area regardless of where they are from.

A minor complaint is the author's Arabic, which should have been checked by a native speaker. The explanations of some words are just incorrect. For example, in the section about Arabic humor, he confuses that the word `nukta' (Arabic for `joke') with the word `nuqta' (Arabic for `point') claiming they are the same word.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some serious mistakes 10 Jun 2008
By Informed reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Some serious mistakes make me question the accuracy of this book. The most egregious of his errors is saying that alcohol is not banned in islam. I could not believe how someone like him can call this a myth. There is a unanimous decision by all islamic jurists that consumption of alcohol is forbidden. The author selectively quotes certain verses from the quran while leaving out others. I know the theory of abrogation is contested about certain verses of the quran, but on this issue there is unanimous agreement that the earlier verses discouraging alcohol were abrogated by later verses forbidding it. This was due to the fact that islamic law was applied gradually. The second big mistake the author makes is when he says that hijab, or covering the hair is not obligatory. For one there is debate whehter the niqab, or face veil is obligatory with most scholars saying the face veil is not obligatory. But on the issue of covering the hair there is an overwhelming majority of juritsts that say it is obligatory. The level of debate on this issue among islamic jurists is akin to the level of debate among biologists on the validity of evolution. These along with the fact that on some controversial issues such as whether the iraq war was about oil, he simply dismisses this as a myth in about 100 words. An issue like that needs a detailed response not 100 word answer that simply dismisses it as out of the question. Why 2 stars instead of one, well some of the myths he tackled were helpful especially to people that know nothing about the middle east, but in the light of such glaring errors one should consult other sources.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally good treatment of a complex region 30 Aug 2006
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have to admit that when I picked this book up, I was skeptical. However, I was soon blown away by the knowledge and wisdom contained in this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Islam or the Middle East. I particularly liked the discussion of Israel, because it is very balanced and historically accurate. The depiction of the Iraq war (2002) is spot-on: the U.S. was not after oil, and not against Saddam per se, but wanted to "reestablish control of the region". I think that is accurate. The book makes some great points, such as, ruling "cleptocracies" in the Mid-East use the Israel-Palestinian conflict to deflect criticism away from themselves. I also liked the assertion that Arabs have a great sense of humor (whereas we think of them as "grim" and "lacking in humor"). This jives with the Arabs I knew when I went to university in Germany: they were without exception, warm, humorous people. The book will surely disappoint extremists, but then again, reality tends to do that.
1.0 out of 5 stars Innaccurate Information Mixed with Bits of Truth 5 May 2010
By Tradecraft - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
100 Myths about the Middle East by Fred Halliday is a complete disappointment. It is clear early on that the information in this book is not accurate and that the author has bias. The distortions of the truth are so pervasive throughout that it would take a book to refute the garbage in Halliday's book.

Much of what is written is filled with bits of truth but mostly inaccurate information that is wordsmithed into 30 second sound bites of disinformation. It seems that Halliday has not ventured out of his classroom much and is stuck in the theoretical world of the London School of Economics. His understanding of Islam and the Muslim culture is limited. His responses to many of the myths are so short that there is no way complete information can be provided. Hence the sound bites that have some truth to at least attempt a defense of accurate information. Mostly, this is not the case.

Skip this book.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Myths are destructable and others debatable 26 May 2006
By andris virsnieks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Throughout his book Mr. Halliday writes that the states in the Middle East are like states everywhere else and each one has its individual history just as other countries do all over the world. But then on page 82 he writes: "Indeed it is debatable whether the main narrative of modern Middle Eastern history is that of states at all." Which is it? Is not the Middle East at least a little different and special like Japan is a little different and special?

Another point the author makes again and again is that in the Middle East it is Myth that ancient history is that important -- what counts is recent history (events within living memory). But many other students of the Middle East report that many people there remember The Crusades as if they occured yesterday. How can a memory like that not affect current events?
I gave this work four stars because the author had the facts to score many direct hits on numerous Myths, but I subtracted one star because he was much too concise for a professor
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