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A History of the Middle East Hardcover – 25 Apr 1991

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st ed. edition (25 April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670815152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670815159
  • Product Dimensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 208,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A brilliantly deft and well-informed guide ... Peter Mansfield compresses the whole tumultuous development of this vast region into 350 coherent, dispassionate and remarkably inclusive pages (The Times Educational Supplement) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Peter Mansfield (1928-1996) corresponded regularly for the Financial Times, Economist, and London Sunday Times on Middle Eastern affairs. The author and editor of numerous works, he is best known for his comprehensive study The Arabs. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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'The Middle East' is a modern English term for the most ancient region of human civilization. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Breach on 27 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Peter Mansfield and Nicholas Pelham are very objective, and they recount many historical happenstances in the context of their effects on the present day. Nonetheless, it is a little dry at times, and difficult to read in places, especially for someone like me who does not have a lot of background in the Middle East. Your knowledge of various sects are taken for granted, they're not introduced. That I found was a big drawback.
Personally I preferred the last 3 chapters by Nicholas Pelham, who writes with more verve than Mansfield, though I am aware that others prefer them the other way around. Nonetheless, even when I was on familiar territory, they condense the narrative so much that it's hard for an outsider to the subject.
Ultimately, I found the chapters on Egypt (particularly Muhammed Ali), Iran/Persia, and Israel/Palestine to be the most interesting, followed by the third chapter on the Ottoman Empire and the Tanzimat Reforms. The book definitely has a focus on these countries, though I shouldn't overstate that, since it does try to cover the whole region for the last 200 years - not an easy task.
In essence, this is probably a brilliant book for a student who knows some of the ropes, but for someone new to the subject, I don't really recommend it as an introduction - it's far too dry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Scuzza on 14 Mar. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The reviews of this varied from the obscure to the very positive about the insight into the middle east without making it to scholarly, so I bought this based on it being not too a heavy a read. I was wrong.

The book flashes from one area/term/person to another such that if you don't have a photographic memory and a previous insight into the history
(which is what I bought this book to start with), then it quickly becomes hard going.

The single most important area I wanted to understand was the background behind Sunnis and Shia's Muslims. The one paragraph this is mentioned is so convoluted I resorted to Wikipedia and wished I'd tried this in the first place.

I have persevered with the book and will finish it (there are great insights into the British insular attitude to Egypt as an example), but if you want a clear understand of the Middle East, then I would look elsewhere first.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Parsa on 28 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
Given that the book spans a few centuries and more than a few cultures and nations it cannot be expected of the author to have an equally deep understanding in all the fields he is covering. Some chapters give a good & sufficient understanding of the events they encompass but others fail, managing to give a rather superficial knowledge of the historical phenomena. Take the chapter on Iran for example, the author states that Nader's genius was purely military and he therefore neglected and thereby failed in matters of statecraft. This just illustrates the authors ignorance of the internal political constraints within the system of the Persian empire at the time. I loathe to contemplate how many other chapters I read were equally lacking in deep understanding of the underlying realities of the events. An introduction for people who know little or nothing of the modern near east.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. N. Tole on 6 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is much to admire and a fair bit to be considered a drawback in Peter Mansfield's sweep of the History of the Middle East.
To fit such a swathe of history into a small 400-page paperback is a bit of an art form in itself. Mansfield has a reasonable overview and a clear love of the Arabs throughout the book though he tries to be even handed throughout. There are obvious lacks and missing pieces throughout and it becomes somewhat eurocentric early on but in the age of empires this was the playground of the European empire hunters and the struggles were played out through many territories. There is also some of the old mechanistic line-through view of history and writing about history which comes through into the book as well. However given that this has to be seen as an overview of a vast stage of events then one can excuse this to a degree.
The latter chapters were written by Pelham and what they lack in grandee like writing of Mansfield they give an alternative to his view and style. A reviewer above called it Sunday-paper journalism but his sections read more like closet exiled academic.
This book tries very hard to give the reader the basis from which to look deeper into the areas that it covers. It raised my awareness generally and makes a good start from which to go on into deeper and more detailed studies. It needs to be regarded as a primer for further work. As a primer it does do a decent job but needs to read with a degree of awareness and not devoured as one. Read with a History of the Arab People and maybe Fisk's writing it points you in the right direction and wets your appetite for further understanding. It also does what all good books do and that is to make you reflect.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G. Diephuis on 9 May 2010
Format: Paperback
Having lost my first copy, I was keen to get a replacement since Peter Mansfield's ( and Nicolas Pelham's) descriptions of history and relations in the Middle East excel in succinctness, objective observations and its drawing of llines of development towards the present day situation. The book can be considered a sequel to PM's book "The Arabs", a very good introduction to the peoples of the Middle East. A "must read" for interested , in particular for expats living in the region.
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