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A Brief History of The Middle East (Brief Histories)

A Brief History of The Middle East (Brief Histories) [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Catherwood
2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A comprehensive history illustrating the roots of the present conflict in the Middle East. -- The Bookseller, May 26

Book Description

An updated edition of the bestselling A Brief History of the Middle East.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1403 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson; New edition edition (27 Jan 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004INH5CG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #265,853 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars
2.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging read with unique insights 2 Mar 2007
For such a large subject, the author succeeds quite well in providing a concise history of the region. Starting with the ancient Sumerians, Hittites, Phoenicians, Assyrians and Babylonians, he deals with the history of the Middle East up to 2006. In this journey through time, Catherwood discusses the origin of monotheism, Akhenaten, Abraham, Judaism, Jesus, the early church and the council of Nicaea.

Two chapters are devoted to Islam: Muhammad And the Dawn Of Islam and The Golden Age Of Islam, where subjects like inter alia Jihad, the Sunni-Shia divide, the Fatimid dynasty and the arrival of the Turks are dealt with. The author frequently references great historians like Bernard Lewis and offers original insights. For example, he points out the significance of the Battle of Manzikert near Lake Van in 1071 where the Byzantines were defeated by the Seljuk Turks.

Then followed the Crusades and the terrible Mongol incursion of 1242. Next he deals with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, its expansion into the Balkans, Asia and Africa, and its fall. He discusses the significance of the end of the khalifate with this event and chronicles the Iranian revolution, the hostage crisis and the first and second Gulf wars in reasonable detail. A chapter is devoted to the creation of Israel and the Arab-Israeli wars.

The final chapter focuses on 9/11, the clash of civilizations, Sayyid Qutb, Arab regimes in the 20th century, Pan-Arabism, Islamism, transnational terrorism and the ideas of Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Hungtington. There are 4 maps and the book concludes with a Selective Chronology from 3500 BC to the present, a glossary of terms, bibliography and index.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 1 Nov 2006
By Teemacs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recently read "The West's last chance" by Tony Blankley (avoid, unless desperately in need of a good laugh). What a pleasure it was to turn to a genuinely even-handed approach, instead of a polemic trying to score points and promote a cause! This is a scholarly, yet completely approachable, history of the Middle East by a noted authority, starting `way back with the Sumerian Empire and coming forward to the present day (it's a recent as the election of Ehud Olmert as Israeli Prime Minister). Dr. Catherwood makes his own positions clear, but doesn't hesitate to point out alternative views and why he differs from them, the way a good historian should. It is full of insights as to why the Middle East is the way that it is, notably how the Western countries have so completely messed it up (and who, of course, are continuing this tradition). His final chapter on the alleged "clash of civilisations" is especially thought-provoking, making the point that the USA is under attack by Islamic militants mainly because it is a supporter of the corrupt, and in their eyes unIslamic, regimes of the Middle East, which are their real targets. Anyone who wants to understand the Middle East could do a lot worse than starting with this excellent slim volume.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Awful! 14 Aug 2014
What a disappointment! I was after a reasonably (but academically sound) concise history of the Middle East and after only 80 pages I have had to bin it. It just isn’t very well written and lacks a professionalism and academic quality that I expected. I did search on line about the author before purchasing the book but I didn’t pay enough attention to some of the facts about him that would have normally made me steer clear, like he’s a member of an evangelical church… This to me has some serious implications when reading anything about the (factual) history of something like the Middle East. And… it wasn’t long before my misgivings became apparent. I quote from page 48 – “One of the best descriptions of who Jesus is and what he came to do is from an unlikely source – the Irish rock star… Bono of U2". I kid you not. You have been warned. There is more like this but I could only take so much, and by page 80 gave up. It’s too religious for me. Rubbish.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If you love book directories you'll love this 20 Feb 2008
I bought this book, with a hope to learning a little a bit more about the back ground of the middle east, and to gain an insight to the political and religious unrest that we see from them today.
However, this book was bitterly disapointing, and could not be further removed from the review on its flysheet, it refers to other books and authors far too frequently and reads like a telephone directory, I feel no further informed on the subject than I did when I first picked it up, and feel horribly cheated out of the money it cost not to mention the 4 evenings of my life I can never get back!
My advice is don't bother, you'll learn more from wikipedia.
Very disapointing
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this 11 Feb 2008
As a general introduction I didn't expect this to be a weighty academic tome. However it is more superficial than I expected and reads like an undergraduate essay in places, frequently stating the obvious with unnecessary appeals to authority (in the introduction he promises not to repeat phrases such as "as Bernard Lewis reminds us", but then reneges on that promise). The author also has a religious bias and although he tries to be even-handed it means that space for non-religious history is limited - certainly as far as the first 4 chapters are concerned, which is as far as I got before giving up. Overall I was very disappointed, and to make matters worse I accidentally ordered 3 copies...
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