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on 23 August 2013
Very smooth. Thoroughly covered the history of Islam, some of the information may not be accurate, such it says that prophet Muhammad is buried in Makkah, which is not correct. He is buried in Madina.
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on 23 January 2013
Like a lot of westerners I have little understanding of the problems in the Middle East but this book covers 2,000 years of Middle East history from pre-Islamic beginnings to the life of Muhammed to the Arab Spring, and everything in between.

Written by Michael Rank, a former journalist and Ottoman historian, it connects the events of the past with the Middle East conflicts of today giving the reader a better understanding of the current situation. It shows that issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iranian nuclear crisis, and human rights problems all stem from deeply-rooted historical issues.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the book is a very fast read and very easy to understand. The subjects are broken up into 25 sections, with each one taking about 5-10 minutes to read. If you don't know much about the Middle East and want to sound informed about the region's history and contemporary politics in the fastest and easiest way possible, then this book is a great place to go.
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on 2 January 2013
I thought the book was a good read, there was a lot to take in, but the author has managed it effectively . Worth a read.
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on 11 June 2013
For someone well aware of 20th century post WW1 history, this book gives a good snapshot of middle eastern history that I was not aware of, thus helping make more sense of issues affecting this part of the world right now.

This excellent resource breaks down individual chunks of Middle Eastern history into sizable easy to understand chunks that goes a long way to being able to understand what is behind the news and why the middle east is where it is today - an excellent and very helpful resource, which I will read again at some point

Peter Davies
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on 10 October 2016
This book provides some Middle Eastern history in a light way for the general reader. The author is capable of being measured and thoughtful, knows something of his subject and can write in a reasonably entertaining style. This book is however rather flawed perhaps because the author has chosen to take a hit-and-run approach to publishing rather than putting in the kind of effort needed to write the good book he appears capable of.

The main flaws are:
- his selection of material is a lazy, dipping in and out. It is Western-orientated and lacks contiguity.
- there has been a general lack of effort and thoughtfulness at the editing stage.

In a book with 29 chapters, there are three chapters devoted to the crusades and seven chapters devoted to the (modern) state of Israel. There is no discussion of Persia/ Iran pre 1940s in this account. The Turks do figure, for example in the guise of the Ottomans but there is no greater sense of a Turkishness that runs from the Middle East all the way to China. There is no discussion of the Silk road except briefly in connection with the Mongol invasions when the erroneous impression might be formed that this is when it first appeared. There is no sense of the spread of Islam eastward out of the middle east. There is no mention of an Indian ocean trading network. There is no sense of Middle Eastern diversity beyond the tags of 'Sunni' and 'Shia'. These omitted topics were things I wanted to obtain an impression of but instead the author gave an unbalanced account with a lot of material I was already familiar with. This is is the main cause of my disappointment.

The book shows a lack of care of various kinds. If it had been more carefully edited then a lot of irritating foolishness could have been avoided. Here are some examples:

His chapter on the Mongols is called the "The Wrath of Khan" which is presumably a conscious reference to the Star Trek film of the same name. Why do this? If it's funny it is only grudgingly so.

A quote: "Genghis [Khan] was also a popular figure with the fairer sex". This is actually code for: a lot of women were raped by Genghis Khan. Historians often use euphemisms for the sexual violence directed against the women of conquered populations but this seeming jokiness is actively distasteful.

Another chapter title runs "The Middle East in Europe: The Ottoman Empire (1516-1918)". This is odd in two ways. Firstly, the Ottoman Empire was not primarily a European empire. Secondly the dates: the Ottoman empire begins a lot earlier (and does not really end in 1918). The author does know these things so why give such a misleading title?
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on 21 February 2013
This is a great book - very informative and easy to read; I really liked the bite-sized chapters that I could just pick up and read when I had 5 minutes spare.
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on 30 August 2013
The book is neatly split up into small chapters, each one explaining a key element of the history. You could spend five minutes per day on this book and end up advancing your knowledge daily.
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on 28 December 2012
I think as a very high level pamphlet this does a pretty good job of setting out some of the chronology of events in the middle east with some interesting facts thrown in. The claims made at the head of each chapter are a bit rich and would require much more in depth text to follow in order to support them. Finally whilst the book started at Muhammed as claimed it didn't get all the way to Burj Khalifa so I was left wondering what this actually is!
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on 6 June 2013
I am glad to have gotten this book because I love the way the info is broken down into bite size chapters of the historical events and actually look forward to educating myself reading it. Many of the chapters have information which are completely new to me. I thoroughly look forward to reading this book fully and definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in history.
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on 31 December 2012
This book gives a good overview of the history of the middle east and presents the facts well. The publisher should have employed a proof reader, however, as there are several spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
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