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From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa: A Crash Course in 2,000 Years of Middle East History

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Veteran journalist and Ottoman historian Michael Rank brings you a concise history of 2,000 years of Middle Eastern war, peace, religious upstarts, and social breakdowns in this exciting new book. To most Westerners the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear utterly bewildering. Palestinians want to bomb Israelis that force them at gunpoint to live in rest Veteran journalist and Ottoman historian Michael Rank brings you a concise history of 2,000 years of Middle Eastern war, peace, religious upstarts, and social breakdowns in this exciting new book. To most Westerners the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear utterly bewildering. Palestinians want to bomb Israelis that force them at gunpoint to live in restricted parts of the country. Arab leaders are furious about this situation and want Israelis “wiped off the map” and their land given back to Palestinians, even though the real estate of the Holy Land looks something like rural Utah. And nearly all the world’s leaders see fit to chime in on this dispute over the two tiny lands. To untangle the modern Middle East conflict and the 2,000 years behind it, this book is divided into 25 concise chapters. Each one is devoted to a major theme in Middle East history, such as the beginning of Islam, the Crusades, Genghis Khan, and the beginning of Israel in 1948. They can be read in a few minutes, giving you a fast overview of the issues and help you to understand Middle East current events. By the end you will know as much about Middle East history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as you would after a year-long college course. You will also sound highly knowledgeable about world affairs to your friends and associates. If you want to understand this part of the world completely in as short a time as possible, then "From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa" is for you!


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Veteran journalist and Ottoman historian Michael Rank brings you a concise history of 2,000 years of Middle Eastern war, peace, religious upstarts, and social breakdowns in this exciting new book. To most Westerners the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear utterly bewildering. Palestinians want to bomb Israelis that force them at gunpoint to live in rest Veteran journalist and Ottoman historian Michael Rank brings you a concise history of 2,000 years of Middle Eastern war, peace, religious upstarts, and social breakdowns in this exciting new book. To most Westerners the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear utterly bewildering. Palestinians want to bomb Israelis that force them at gunpoint to live in restricted parts of the country. Arab leaders are furious about this situation and want Israelis “wiped off the map” and their land given back to Palestinians, even though the real estate of the Holy Land looks something like rural Utah. And nearly all the world’s leaders see fit to chime in on this dispute over the two tiny lands. To untangle the modern Middle East conflict and the 2,000 years behind it, this book is divided into 25 concise chapters. Each one is devoted to a major theme in Middle East history, such as the beginning of Islam, the Crusades, Genghis Khan, and the beginning of Israel in 1948. They can be read in a few minutes, giving you a fast overview of the issues and help you to understand Middle East current events. By the end you will know as much about Middle East history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as you would after a year-long college course. You will also sound highly knowledgeable about world affairs to your friends and associates. If you want to understand this part of the world completely in as short a time as possible, then "From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa" is for you!

30 review for From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa: A Crash Course in 2,000 Years of Middle East History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lilo

    I would give this great little booklet a full 5 stars, but its sloppy editing forced me to deduct one star. This is a highly recommended read for anyone whose history teachers failed to teach about the Middle East and whose knowledge about this subject is mainly from the daily news and some magazine articles. I am so very happy that I came across this little booklet, which can be read in a few hours. It will enable me to hide my terrible gap in education regarding the Middle East. Don’t tell anyone I would give this great little booklet a full 5 stars, but its sloppy editing forced me to deduct one star. This is a highly recommended read for anyone whose history teachers failed to teach about the Middle East and whose knowledge about this subject is mainly from the daily news and some magazine articles. I am so very happy that I came across this little booklet, which can be read in a few hours. It will enable me to hide my terrible gap in education regarding the Middle East. Don’t tell anyone I told you. It’s not necessary that everyone knows that I have this educational deficit. With what I learned from this booklet I can now pass as well educated about the Middle East Conflict and all other Middle East issues. I wish someone in the White House would force our present ruler to read this little booklet (maybe by locking him into the Oval Office for an afternoon without a McDonald meal). This might help a lot with his foreign policy in that region.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Rank

    It's not difficult to take the simple and make it complex; genius lies in taking the complex and simplifying it so it becomes useful. In From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa you'll find 2,000 years of people/places/politics/problems/progress - sorted out and delivered in highly digestible five-minute chunks. I've described this book to others as "simple without being simplistic." Especially because of the Arab Spring, many of us are paying attention to the history of the Middle East in ways we didn't be It's not difficult to take the simple and make it complex; genius lies in taking the complex and simplifying it so it becomes useful. In From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa you'll find 2,000 years of people/places/politics/problems/progress - sorted out and delivered in highly digestible five-minute chunks. I've described this book to others as "simple without being simplistic." Especially because of the Arab Spring, many of us are paying attention to the history of the Middle East in ways we didn't before. From Muhammed to Buri Khalifa offers - in a readable, non-academic style - a solid handhold to the story of the Middle East and what it means for today.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lkai

    Great overview, but some of the important points were, in my opinion sketchy for instance: The primary idfference between Sunni and Shi'ah. I did learn some things, but feel I now need to verify some of the facts. (Which isn't a bad idea for something as complex as Middle Eastern history)I would recommend this as a starting place, not an overall authority on the subject.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Juanita

    This is a very manageable book relating to the history of the Middle East. It addresses major events and is great for someone who is curious or someone considering studying the area. It is about 100 pages, divided into small chapters that are quick and easy to read. This would be a great resource for homeschoolers and public school students.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    For a journalist, Michael Rank's written English is pretty poor, though that unfortunately is pretty much the state of journalism today. The most egregious error being that Muhammed "taught his followers the major tenants of the religion." "Tenets", dammit! He's also inconsistent in the use of the prophet's name. The cover says "From Muham­med to Burj Khal­ifa…" while the title page gives: "From Muham­mad…" I'm uncomfortable about the way he addresses Islam in places. Why does For a journalist, Michael Rank's written English is pretty poor, though that unfortunately is pretty much the state of journalism today. The most egregious error being that Muhammed "taught his followers the major tenants of the religion." "Tenets", dammit! He's also inconsistent in the use of the prophet's name. The cover says "From Muham­med to Burj Khal­ifa…" while the title page gives: "From Muham­mad…" I'm uncomfortable about the way he addresses Islam in places. Why does Rank use deliberately provocative language like "After claiming to receive a prophecy from God", when talking about Muhammed? "After receiving a prophecy…" would be palatable to Muslims and non-believers alike. Or, "he also stated that pagans and unbelievers cannot approach the Sacred Mosque, a statement which the Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti used in March 2012 as a pretext to call for all churches in the Arabian peninsula to be bulldozed." Given that he doesn't explain this statement at all, it merely appears intended to show the irrationality of Islam. Still, this book does almost exactly what it promises: "By the end you will know as much about the Middle East as you would after a year-long college course [and] sound highly knowledgeable about world affairs to your friends and associates." The first claim is arguable — I learned more about the Middle East in High School history — but the second is certainly true!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob Slaven

    First and as always, this arrived on my doorstep for free, this time courtesy of a GoodReads giveaway. Despite that very kind consideration, I will review it with absolute and dispassionate candor. When I signed up for this book I didn't read the description very closely and I expected a large, hardcover book that would take a few weeks to slog through. Honestly I was rather excited at the prospect so when this teeny thing showed up I was a bit put off. To its credit, it certainly is brief. No to First and as always, this arrived on my doorstep for free, this time courtesy of a GoodReads giveaway. Despite that very kind consideration, I will review it with absolute and dispassionate candor. When I signed up for this book I didn't read the description very closely and I expected a large, hardcover book that would take a few weeks to slog through. Honestly I was rather excited at the prospect so when this teeny thing showed up I was a bit put off. To its credit, it certainly is brief. No topic, no matter how complicated, takes more than 2-3 pages to be laid out in its entirety. It's simple, readable and accessible to anyone over the age of 12. On the negative side of things, I would have been horrified had I paid for this. While it is simple, it is also in need of some editing. At the beginning particularly there are several simple typos and at one point it seems that a page might be missing. Further, the text is SO boiled down that one begins to doubt the veracity and completeness of what is being presented. This is a great overview but a rather terrifying one. The back of the book says, "by end you'll know as much as you would after a year-long college course." I'd feel really bad if I took a two-semester course on Middle-Eastern history and this was all I got out of it. In summary, this is about as much history as you could pack into an hour of reading. Informative to be sure, but disappointing to anyone wanting something with a bit more meat on it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I received From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa as part of a Goodreads giveaway. This small tome includes 25 short lessons on the Middle East, from its origins as a cultural and economic crossroads, through the rise of Islam, religious warfare, intervening periods of European and Ottoman imperialism, the establishment of Israel and resulting conflicts, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and totalitarian governments. At 100 pages, it's hardly an exhaustive history--author Rank notes that it's approxim I received From Muhammed to Burj Khalifa as part of a Goodreads giveaway. This small tome includes 25 short lessons on the Middle East, from its origins as a cultural and economic crossroads, through the rise of Islam, religious warfare, intervening periods of European and Ottoman imperialism, the establishment of Israel and resulting conflicts, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and totalitarian governments. At 100 pages, it's hardly an exhaustive history--author Rank notes that it's approximately equal to an introductory college course, and much of the material was not new to me, despite my relatively limited knowledge of this extraordinarily complex region. That said, Rank does a lot with little space. The chapters are short and easy to read for novices while remaining insightful. With the tendency for propaganda and black-and-white viewpoints by all sides, particularly in the mass media, he does an effective job of describing (or at least beginning to describe) the multifaceted views at work. I will note that there were a few editing errors--for instance, I believe the first page of one chapter was omitted toward the beginning of the book--the following page picked up mid-sentence. Recommended for novices to Middle Eastern history, culture, and politics.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert Bannon

    The sub title says it all, "A crash course in 2,000 years of middle east history." I am constantly reading and viewing news that involves the Middle East. My next door neighbors are a wonderful couple who grew up, and still have family, in Cairo. The news reports are confusing at best since my understanding of the politics and religion of the region is limited. I simply want to have enough information to be able to understand what is going on. What is going on is rooted in a long and convoluted The sub title says it all, "A crash course in 2,000 years of middle east history." I am constantly reading and viewing news that involves the Middle East. My next door neighbors are a wonderful couple who grew up, and still have family, in Cairo. The news reports are confusing at best since my understanding of the politics and religion of the region is limited. I simply want to have enough information to be able to understand what is going on. What is going on is rooted in a long and convoluted history. Mr. Rank does not attempt to explain every detail or nuance, but rather gives the reader an overall understanding of the long and varied past that has exploded onto today's front pages. I enjoyed and appreciate this quick look at the Middle East and while I am not about to enter into an argument about the relative merits of any of the participants, I do have a much better understanding of who they are and what motivates them. Thank you to the author for presenting a difficult to understand area of the world in a way that helps me to be more informed. Very few opinions are expressed, so I can at least weigh the merits of the various activities and the influence the Middle East has on the rest of the world. Well worthwhile reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lacie

    I received this book through the goodreads.com's giveaways. Like previous reviewers have mentioned, this book needed a good grammar/punctuation check before publication. Honestly, I would've expected a bit more from an author who has experience working as a journalist. It was a tad bit distracting at times but I'm a bit OCD like that. As far as the content, this is not a comprehensive, in-depth history. You have quick, short chapters that begin with a key idea, why it matters to you, and then an I received this book through the goodreads.com's giveaways. Like previous reviewers have mentioned, this book needed a good grammar/punctuation check before publication. Honestly, I would've expected a bit more from an author who has experience working as a journalist. It was a tad bit distracting at times but I'm a bit OCD like that. As far as the content, this is not a comprehensive, in-depth history. You have quick, short chapters that begin with a key idea, why it matters to you, and then an explanation about that main point. The explanations are not as extensive as one would hope and leave you wanting to learn a bit more. This book is great for someone looking for a very general overview.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    This was a First Reads book from a Goodreads giveaway. This title says it all: it is literally a crash course in Middle East History. In 100 pages, divided into 25 chapters of 3-5 pages apiece, the author hits the highlights and key issues in how the Middle East came to be over the past 2 millenia via political, religious, social, and militaristic means. As one who catches snippets of information about the Middle East in the news, this succinct book sheds some light on why things are the way the This was a First Reads book from a Goodreads giveaway. This title says it all: it is literally a crash course in Middle East History. In 100 pages, divided into 25 chapters of 3-5 pages apiece, the author hits the highlights and key issues in how the Middle East came to be over the past 2 millenia via political, religious, social, and militaristic means. As one who catches snippets of information about the Middle East in the news, this succinct book sheds some light on why things are the way they are. Though a quick read, it was rather informative.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Don LaFountaine

    It was a book worth reading, and it was very quick! Mr. Rank simplifies such a complex and difficult situation so that the reader can attain a basic understanding of why the Middle East is such a volatile area. It will not give significant details, but I found that it peaked my interest in some of the surrounding issues. I also learned about some things that I was not previously aware of. All in all, an interesting book that is worth the couple of hours it takes to read for someone interested in It was a book worth reading, and it was very quick! Mr. Rank simplifies such a complex and difficult situation so that the reader can attain a basic understanding of why the Middle East is such a volatile area. It will not give significant details, but I found that it peaked my interest in some of the surrounding issues. I also learned about some things that I was not previously aware of. All in all, an interesting book that is worth the couple of hours it takes to read for someone interested in the topic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed Alsuayegh

    A very quick overview of the history of middle east. It has been written recently so it includes arab spring and other recent middle eastern affairs. The author is a journalist who had spent enough time in the middle east and studied Arabic and other languages which makes his conclusions in the book more realistic. there are very few misunderstandings in some topics related to Medina and prophet Mohammed's tomb. Anyway, it is worth reading for those who what to understand middle eastern history A very quick overview of the history of middle east. It has been written recently so it includes arab spring and other recent middle eastern affairs. The author is a journalist who had spent enough time in the middle east and studied Arabic and other languages which makes his conclusions in the book more realistic. there are very few misunderstandings in some topics related to Medina and prophet Mohammed's tomb. Anyway, it is worth reading for those who what to understand middle eastern history as a whole in less than hundred pages!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lance Greenlee

    Had I known the book was going to be this elementary, I would not have bought it. The chapters are extremely brief. It seemed he wrote an outline for a book and then decided he wasn't really that interested in the subject. In addition, I found the writing a bit dry, and the "Here's what you should get out of this chapter" a little annoying. However, this is probably a good overview for those lacking much knowledge in this area.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Boyce

    This book was disappointing (partly because it took me less than an hour to read). Every chapter felt like a short introduction to that particular "lesson" and the author didn't talk about any topic extensively. I wish there had been a lot more information in this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noelle James

    This book is a concise overview of the history of the Middle East. It is an interesting read for someone who knows little about how the Middle East has been shaped over time. It is however missing a page in the first chapter, where a paragraph begins mid sentence at the top of the page.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bea

    This is what the title says: a crash course in the history of the Middle East. Each chapter is a lesson about a specific hisorical period and it did help me understand some of the things I feel I should know, but was confused about. Not a novel, just a learning opportunity.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Good basics of history in the area using broad strokes. Unfortunately, riddled with errors such as omitted words and commas, and (at least in my copy) a missing page of text between pgs 12 & 13 (13 starts mid sentence while 12 is the chapter title). Good basics of history in the area using broad strokes. Unfortunately, riddled with errors such as omitted words and commas, and (at least in my copy) a missing page of text between pgs 12 & 13 (13 starts mid sentence while 12 is the chapter title).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Well I expected more than I got, so maybe that is why I'm disappointed. Chapters were short sum ups of events not really explanations so I don't feel like i learned much at all. His bibliography might be worth a read though for a list of books with substantial information to divulge.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kt

    A Reader's Digest version of Middle Eastern history. The author equates reading this book to attending a year long college course in Middle Eastern history, which is ludacrous, but it was a nice starting point.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jakenv

    Very well written and presented. History one of favorite subjects so truly appreciated. Had some misconceptions which were cleared by author. Received from free Goodreads for honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    NVTony

    Thought provoking which is what author intends. Highly recommend to anyone interested in history. Found myself continuing to read long into night.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    When it says concise, it definitely means it - but this is a useful and interesting taster of Middle Eastern history.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kris Parker

    Extremely basic but a good overview

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Didactic and to the point. Gives a perfect macro-view for beginners.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mary Derbenwick

    Good Starter A good overview but its brevity is also its downfall. With his 10 years in Turkey, some explanation of Turkey's quagmire would have been very helpful.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steve Buckler

    For children and morons only Waste of time if you have a functioning brain and a simple grasp of history. If you IQ is under three digits this nonsense is for you. Waste of time and money!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Miller

    This was a decent overview of Islam ... but overview it is, so do not expect in-depth explorations in this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Fast and easy to read. Good background information if you know nothing at all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen Haste

    Great. Easy to understand

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    Great! Very informative! Great read to learn about the Middle East. I highly recommend this book to understand what is taking place.

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