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From the birth of Christianity to the modern era, renowned historian and Princeton professor Bernard Lewis charts the history of the Middle East. Elegantly written and accessible, this comprehensive volume paints a varied and intriguing portrait of a region steeped in traditionalism even while geography and politics force change upon it. With wit and gravity, sympathy and o From the birth of Christianity to the modern era, renowned historian and Princeton professor Bernard Lewis charts the history of the Middle East. Elegantly written and accessible, this comprehensive volume paints a varied and intriguing portrait of a region steeped in traditionalism even while geography and politics force change upon it. With wit and gravity, sympathy and objectivity, the author explores the cultural currents that for 2,000 years have flowed across the broad territory spanning Morocco to the Central Asian steppes. He covers fascinating details like transformations in clothing to earth-shaking events like the Mongol conquest. And he considers the future of the region where ancient patterns and conflicts seem destined to repeat themselves. Bernard Lewis draws from a multitude of sources including the work of archaeologists and scholars to create this chronological look at the Middle East. Richard M. Davidson's thoughtful performance leads you on a search through the past for answers to questions that will inevitably arise in the future.


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From the birth of Christianity to the modern era, renowned historian and Princeton professor Bernard Lewis charts the history of the Middle East. Elegantly written and accessible, this comprehensive volume paints a varied and intriguing portrait of a region steeped in traditionalism even while geography and politics force change upon it. With wit and gravity, sympathy and o From the birth of Christianity to the modern era, renowned historian and Princeton professor Bernard Lewis charts the history of the Middle East. Elegantly written and accessible, this comprehensive volume paints a varied and intriguing portrait of a region steeped in traditionalism even while geography and politics force change upon it. With wit and gravity, sympathy and objectivity, the author explores the cultural currents that for 2,000 years have flowed across the broad territory spanning Morocco to the Central Asian steppes. He covers fascinating details like transformations in clothing to earth-shaking events like the Mongol conquest. And he considers the future of the region where ancient patterns and conflicts seem destined to repeat themselves. Bernard Lewis draws from a multitude of sources including the work of archaeologists and scholars to create this chronological look at the Middle East. Richard M. Davidson's thoughtful performance leads you on a search through the past for answers to questions that will inevitably arise in the future.

30 review for The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years (AUDIOBOOK) [CD] (UNABRIDGED)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Becher

    I thought the book was a useful overview of Middle Eastern history from the Roman Empire through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obviously that is a lot of ground to cover in less than four hundred pages, so the level of detail is not terribly great. Lewis is aiming instead for a general understanding of the major trends in the region's development. Since the entire subject was new to me at the time of reading this book I had to resign myself to letting many of the dates and names slide past m I thought the book was a useful overview of Middle Eastern history from the Roman Empire through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obviously that is a lot of ground to cover in less than four hundred pages, so the level of detail is not terribly great. Lewis is aiming instead for a general understanding of the major trends in the region's development. Since the entire subject was new to me at the time of reading this book I had to resign myself to letting many of the dates and names slide past me for the time being; you just can't hope to catch all of the information the first time through. But it did provide me a useful skeleton outline of events and personalities, so that now as I continue to read in the field I am beginning to recognize details I have seen before rather than constantly coming across new information. The book is emphatically not a history of Islam; but only touches on it as a part of the history of the region. But I would suggest the work as a necessary historical background for any serious study of the content and especially the development of the Muslim faith. I would argue that it would be exceptionally difficult to arrive at any decent understanding of Islam without first studying the region in which it originated and the peoples by whom it was adopted and who were/are responsible for its propagation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim Green

    An interesting overview of the history of the Middle East. Trying to condense two millennia of history of an entire region into one book is rather ambitious and at times one does get confused with the details and direction. This is particularly true in the earlier part of the book, covering the earlier history, where of course records are rare. But whilst I don't come away from this book thinking I understand the history well, I do now have a rough idea of how the history has developed. Where the An interesting overview of the history of the Middle East. Trying to condense two millennia of history of an entire region into one book is rather ambitious and at times one does get confused with the details and direction. This is particularly true in the earlier part of the book, covering the earlier history, where of course records are rare. But whilst I don't come away from this book thinking I understand the history well, I do now have a rough idea of how the history has developed. Where the book really picks up is in the last hundred pages or so, covering the last couple of centuries. Here the historical record is far more detailed, allowing a far more in depth analysis and fortunately for me is where my particular interests lie. Overall an interesting read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This was a fantastic book! A clear, unbiased presentation of Middle East history over the last 2000 years - and told in such a compelling way that it was more than just facts and figures but a dramatic and engaging story. Lewis has a definite knack for story telling, turns of phrase, and well placed vignettes. Actually, I think there are at least three or four blockbuster movies we could make from this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    A good general history of the Middle East with a strong focus on Islamic (think Turkish, Lewis's main area of study)history from 622 AD to the first gulf war. The most important sections cover culture, local politics and the lower classes, subjects rarely covered in most surveys, which often seem to only bounce from war to war.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Anyone who wants to understand the Middle East should start with Bernard Lewis.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex Hui

    This book provides a very detailed account of how Islam influence the Middle East from sixth century and how the West shape the recent picture of Middle East. Readers may find the book focus much on Islam and a bit little of what happened regionally during Middle Age. It's also a good book on mental development of Middle East people.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo Rydin Gorjão

    Extensive and somewhat hard if not your main topic of occupation. I battled through but enjoyed. As someone born in the "West", with little or no contact with Islam, this book clarified plenty of what I had imagined to be.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Xander

    In The Middle East, Bernard Lewis offers an overview of the last 2000 years of middle eastern history. This sounds interesting, and should rightly be so, but it doesn't really work out in practice. I realize that it is extremely difficult to write a book that is not only complete but also in-depth, especially on an area that is as complex and historically diverse as the Middle East. But Lewis has so much ground to cover that he doesn't have the time or space to devote much attention to anything. In The Middle East, Bernard Lewis offers an overview of the last 2000 years of middle eastern history. This sounds interesting, and should rightly be so, but it doesn't really work out in practice. I realize that it is extremely difficult to write a book that is not only complete but also in-depth, especially on an area that is as complex and historically diverse as the Middle East. But Lewis has so much ground to cover that he doesn't have the time or space to devote much attention to anything. This makes it a sort of strange high speed tour of the most important developments in the region. But even this isn't really true: Lewis mostly covers Turkish/Ottoman history and in general neglects Persian history. One of the main strengths of the book is that Lewis offers a relatively short introduction on political and religious developments before the rise of islam - there are enough books on classical Greece, Rome and Persia. The main focus in this book is on islamic history, and this Lewis accomplishes. After this, Lewis deals with the rise and spread of islam - a sort of 7th century 'Blitzkrieg', conquering Arabia, North Africa, Spain, the Fertile Cresent and parts of Central Asia within a century. The muslim conquerors used the existing political and economic infrastructure of the Byzantine and Persian empires, this explains (partly) why they could hold on to their conquests for so long. It is only after centuries that gradually islamic tradition starts to mould these conquered lands. Lewis tells us of the dynastic successions - the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids - and of the conquests of the tribes of the Asian steppes - the Turks, the Mongols, etc. In the second part of the book, Lewis gives a fairly detailed description of the political, economic and cultural life of the Middle East up to the 17th century. What started as an Arab elitism, gradually became an egalitarian, expansive religion with its own schisms (Sunni/Shia, Soufism, Assassins, etc.). Even though this part is fairly detailed, I miss an expansive account of science and medicine in the early islamic period. Not only was this a very important part for islam itself, but it forms the stepping stone for the scientific revolution in 17th century Europe. The third and last part of this book gives an overview of political and religious developments from the rise of the Ottoman Empire up to 1995. This is a period in which the islamic empires (Ottomans, Persians) got beaten back by European technology and economics until, in the end, they become imperial possessions of France and England. Lewis does a good job on describing how both World Wars changed the fate of the Middle East - from huge empires to petty nation states with their boundaries drawn up by French and English ambassadors. During the 20th century the Middle East underwent many ideological revolutions - pan-arabism, communism, dictatorships and theocracries. I find it amusing how Lewis, writing in 1995, was optimistic about the development of liberal and democratic ideas in this region. How time has proved him wrong! But then again, maybe there's a democratic undercurrent that we in the West fail to notice. Only time will tell. Before concluding this review, I'd like to compliment Lewis on finding a critical but honest way of representing Middle Eastern history. Middle Eastern history has been struck by Occidental accounts of Europeans moralising history; this book offers readers an honest account of the bigger historical picture without moralising about these events. It is only in the last two chapters (covering modern time) that Lewis makes a few remarks that could be read as 'Occidentalism' - but these comments were (in my opinion) substantiated and convincing. To conclude: this is a recommendable book for people who'd like to get a quick update on the Middle East and who are only interested in the bigger picture. If you're looking for more detailed accounts of wars, political events, religious concepts or scientific discoveries than this might be a good starting point but it will not whet your appetite.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Rosner

    This is a somewhat condensed examination of the last two thousand years of history in the Middle East. If you’re looking for detailed biographies of every major historical figure during that time, or elaborate accounts of military conquest, this probably isn’t the volume for you. On the other hand, if you’re curious about the broader cultural, technological and linguistic currents that have shaped the region, you’ve found a home. At the book’s centre is Islam, and the book occasionally feels lik This is a somewhat condensed examination of the last two thousand years of history in the Middle East. If you’re looking for detailed biographies of every major historical figure during that time, or elaborate accounts of military conquest, this probably isn’t the volume for you. On the other hand, if you’re curious about the broader cultural, technological and linguistic currents that have shaped the region, you’ve found a home. At the book’s centre is Islam, and the book occasionally feels like a history of Islam rather than the Middle East as a whole. Still, as Lewis argues, it has been the defining force for the region since its emergence from the Arabian deserts over fourteen centuries ago. And if there’s a historian in the West who understands the theological underpinnings of Islam and its relationship with the other great faiths of the region (Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, even the contributions of the Greeks), I haven’t read him. If nothing else, this book and Lewis’ work as a whole disproves Edward Said’s rather offensive thesis concerning Western outlooks on the Middle East. Lewis does a very good job of describing the forces shaping daily life in the Middle East; the bureacratic administration of the Ottoman empire, land tenure, agriculture, languages, literature, even music. If there’s one minor failing, I think he could have developed a more explicit thesis on why the West was able to catch up and eventually surpass the Islamic world in virtually every field of human endeavour (to be fair, though, he has addressed this subject in other books). And one does get a sense of a once great civilization that has lost its way and is still struggling to cope with the changes wrought by modernity.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    This is an interesting overview of Middle Eastern history by respected Middle East scholar Lewis. Although, as some other reviewers here have noted, his style is not highly entertaining, if you are interested in learning something and enjoy challenging your mind, rather than being passively entertained by pop culture versions of history, it's worth the effort. Lewis takes the panoramic view of the social, cultural, religious, and political history of the region, which I found illuminating ofcurr This is an interesting overview of Middle Eastern history by respected Middle East scholar Lewis. Although, as some other reviewers here have noted, his style is not highly entertaining, if you are interested in learning something and enjoy challenging your mind, rather than being passively entertained by pop culture versions of history, it's worth the effort. Lewis takes the panoramic view of the social, cultural, religious, and political history of the region, which I found illuminating ofcurrent events. In particular, the knowledge I gained about the workings and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire has enriched, deepened, and changed my view of events from the Syrian Civil War to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I appreciated greatly that Lewis' tone was neither apologetic nor condescending towards his chosen subject, but rather respectful and as objective as one can be. My main criticism of the book is that it did not entirely live up to its title. In a book on the history of the whole Middle Eastern region, one would expect a balance in coverage of the Ottoman Empire and the Muslim empires of Persia/Iran. Lewis spent the vast majority of the book describing characteristics and events of the Ottoman Empire. I came away with only a vague idea of events in Persia/Iran. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Positives: Lewis does an excellent job in the middle section of the book analyzing aspects of Middle East culture and government, such as the state and the arts. His anecdotes are longer in these sections, and he is better at focusing on subjects that he finds important. His modern history section is tightly written as well and fairly entertaining. Negatives: First, Lewis has a pro-colonial and pro-Western bias that shines strongly in the modern history section. Lewis certainly believes that West Positives: Lewis does an excellent job in the middle section of the book analyzing aspects of Middle East culture and government, such as the state and the arts. His anecdotes are longer in these sections, and he is better at focusing on subjects that he finds important. His modern history section is tightly written as well and fairly entertaining. Negatives: First, Lewis has a pro-colonial and pro-Western bias that shines strongly in the modern history section. Lewis certainly believes that Western society and philosophy is "better," and seems to chide Middle Eastern states for not following it as he thinks is best. Second, the section on pre-Islamic and medieval history is very boring and fact-focused. To me, it seemed that Lewis had a weaker grasp of pre-Ottoman history and decided to give a comprehensive narration rather than focus on the most important themes/states. Unfortunately, this doesn't make for engaging reading, especially when he limits himself to 130 or so pages.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Lewis is a good historian and his was an enjoyable enough read (more so than Karen Armstrong's book on the same subject). Creates a good understanding of some of the great historical ironies (e.g. how an ascendent Islamic culture preserved much of the history and literature that were foundational for liberal western culture, how Islamic culture went into a great period of decline in part because they didn't know of any good sources of energy to fuel their economic growth). A good companion book Lewis is a good historian and his was an enjoyable enough read (more so than Karen Armstrong's book on the same subject). Creates a good understanding of some of the great historical ironies (e.g. how an ascendent Islamic culture preserved much of the history and literature that were foundational for liberal western culture, how Islamic culture went into a great period of decline in part because they didn't know of any good sources of energy to fuel their economic growth). A good companion book would be Reza Aslan's "No God But God." Lewis deals with theology in the context of history, while Aslan's focus is the theology of Islam from a moderates perspective.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    Wow. I saw this book in the bargain bin and figured I could not go wrong. My historical knowledge, well my knowledge period, of the middle-east was quite minimal. There is a lot of information in this tome, more than a person could ever hope to retain. That said, I think it is more than possible for most people to slog through and gain great insight into the politics, the religion of this rich and fascinating part of the world. This read is a major endeavor so be prepared, but if you are truly look Wow. I saw this book in the bargain bin and figured I could not go wrong. My historical knowledge, well my knowledge period, of the middle-east was quite minimal. There is a lot of information in this tome, more than a person could ever hope to retain. That said, I think it is more than possible for most people to slog through and gain great insight into the politics, the religion of this rich and fascinating part of the world. This read is a major endeavor so be prepared, but if you are truly looking for a comprehensive history of the middle-east, this is the book for you. If not, well, find an abridged edition. =)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yofish

    A very comprehensive history, more or less from Mohammed to the present. Way too much to listen to 5 minutes at a time in the car. Just too much information to process and remember. Was it France or Britain in Egypt in the 19th century? Who were Pashas and who were Sultans? Tammarlane did what, again? What's the difference between Nationalism and patriotism?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    13 FEB 2015 - a work lunchroom find. New boxes of books appeared and this was inside one of them. Lucky me!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Carr

    Wish the chapters would be divided into more subsections cause sometimes it felt like it needed it... Anywho. Great history on the Middle East from before Christianity and Islam up to the 90s. Book was published in like 95 or 96 or something so of course it doesn't have anything more recent as far as US involvement. But yosh. Lots of culture information for me to soak up. Plus information on Islam and why the religion is so tied to their government in these countries. Interesting stuff how each n Wish the chapters would be divided into more subsections cause sometimes it felt like it needed it... Anywho. Great history on the Middle East from before Christianity and Islam up to the 90s. Book was published in like 95 or 96 or something so of course it doesn't have anything more recent as far as US involvement. But yosh. Lots of culture information for me to soak up. Plus information on Islam and why the religion is so tied to their government in these countries. Interesting stuff how each new outside influence effects the region. From Turks to Mongols to British, French, and Russian imperialism. Oh that imperialism... Smh

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    An interesting overview over the history of the region, though by necessity a superficial one as it attempts to condense two millenia into 400 pages. Enough to give the reader a rough understanding of the subject, but not much beyond that.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Arjun Mishra

    The stated task of this book is to explore through two thousand years of the vast history of the Middle East in fewer than four hundred pages. It is difficult to condense a region that has thrived and declined under numerous empires, given birth to three major world religions, served as a bridge in between Europe and Asia, and has been an enormous foreign policy question for the West, but Bernard Lewis managed to do so successfully. Regardless, there are still some problems with the book. I was d The stated task of this book is to explore through two thousand years of the vast history of the Middle East in fewer than four hundred pages. It is difficult to condense a region that has thrived and declined under numerous empires, given birth to three major world religions, served as a bridge in between Europe and Asia, and has been an enormous foreign policy question for the West, but Bernard Lewis managed to do so successfully. Regardless, there are still some problems with the book. I was dismayed by the lack of cohesion when reading through chapters and historical periods. Lewis would jump from one empire in one region at one period to another empire in a region from another period without much coherence. This is difficult to keep track of through the first half of the book, and it makes for aggravated reading. The transitions are not smooth and seamless. Important historical figures and their accomplishments are all over the place. I would have appreciated a theological discussion on jihad and how the ulema of a certain empire and the rulers interpreted "the doctrine" as such. It seems like he dealt with it as a monolithic idea, rather than something that as malleable by empire and age. A tremendous flaw in this book is the way that Dr. Lewis would mention a group of people or an idea a few times in scattered places before finally explaining that group or idea was. I remember he discussed Sufis and Wahhabis in numerous places, but he did not explain the ideas and people behind it until later in the book. It was disjointed and unorganized. A discussion of Wahhabism is critical to the dissent inside the Ottoman Empire and the philosophical foundation to one of the most important Middle Eastern countries - Saudi Arabia. He also fails to discuss in any detail the theological differences between Shiism and Sunnism, which are drivers of violence throughout the region (Iraq, tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia). He mentions how early Shiites and Sunnis viewed the early caliphs, but the discussion veers after that. It is the most important distinction to make and discuss. The final chapter is a flop when it is read through present day eyes. I believe this was written in 1995; it is in dire need of a revision. His conclusions are faulty since they are from two decades ago. For example, his analysis of The Gulf War with Iraq leads to the conclusion that international conflicts can be resolved, but that governance will be left to the people of the nation. That was the case in 1991, but definitely not the case in 2003. They can be appreciated for what they were in the 1990s, but the world is far too different for those conclusions to be accepted or viable. I enjoyed Lewis's analysis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam based on their founding prophets. Moses did not enter the Promised Land and Jesus and the early Christians were under persecution. However, Muhammad founded a religion, established a kingdom, and was alive while it flourished. The experience of the founding prophets shaped the outlook of the adherents. This is sheer conjecture, but he also posited the hypothesis that Muslim expansion stopped at India in the East and Spain in the West because pigs lived in those places. He admits it is conjecture; still fascinating. The book is an engrossing and fulfilling read of Middle Eastern history. If anything, it is slightly incomplete. The chapter on statecraft is riveting and with important consequences for the contemporary world. I will seek out other books by Bernard Lewis if anyone has any recommendations. I would recommend reading this book by Lewis first before getting into any other of his more specific works.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was informative and engaging. It provided a readable summary without seeming to abridge more than necessary. It was published in 1995, and its view of the Middle East is from an educated but still Western perspective in a pre-2001 world. It would certainly be valuable to read a history of the Middle East by a Middle Eastern historian, and I am definitely considering reading a more modern follow-up. Considering this book's limits, however, I would recommend it for anyone interested in learni This was informative and engaging. It provided a readable summary without seeming to abridge more than necessary. It was published in 1995, and its view of the Middle East is from an educated but still Western perspective in a pre-2001 world. It would certainly be valuable to read a history of the Middle East by a Middle Eastern historian, and I am definitely considering reading a more modern follow-up. Considering this book's limits, however, I would recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about Middle Eastern history.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    This book is a useful survey of the history and cultural institutions of the Middle East. Lewis goes back before the rise of Islam to look at the civilizations and religious systems that antedated Islam including Rome, Greece, Persia and Egypt and Judaism and Zoroastrianism, as well as nascent Christianity. He delineates the rise of Islam and the clashes both with the west and invading peoples from the Steppes and Mongolia. He also details the rise, greatness, and protracted decline of the Ottom This book is a useful survey of the history and cultural institutions of the Middle East. Lewis goes back before the rise of Islam to look at the civilizations and religious systems that antedated Islam including Rome, Greece, Persia and Egypt and Judaism and Zoroastrianism, as well as nascent Christianity. He delineates the rise of Islam and the clashes both with the west and invading peoples from the Steppes and Mongolia. He also details the rise, greatness, and protracted decline of the Ottoman empire (for me one of the most interesting and least understood aspects of this history) and then the more contemporary history of Western colonialism, post World War 1 settlements, the Palestinian question and various nationalist and revolutionary movements. The history is interrupted by a section on the various cultural institutions shaping Middle Eastern life through history including State, Economy, Elites, Commonalty, Religion and Law. Two shortcomings which may be the consequence of space and time. Space perhaps limited the discussion of the inner life and worldview of the cultures making up the Middle East. This felt like very "objective" history. The second was a limitation of time. The book was written in 1995 and lacked the prescience (understandable) to anticipate the Bush II interventions into Iraq and Afghanistan. Lewis thought our interventions would be limited to defending our own interests but not extend to attempting "nation building". Nor did he anticipate terrorist organizations with global reach. What he did anticipate was the "Arab spring" phenomenon of this past year. All in all, a helpful treatment but not perhaps my "go to" source on the Middle East.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Too much for my taste on the twentieth century, and not enough on the pre-Ottoman world, but that can be forgiven. The slightly oily feeling I got reading the last few chapters, however, cannot: Lewis seems to know an awful lot about the middle east, but, as with many biographers, all that knowledge seems to have made him less, rather than more, keen. The take-away of the last half of the book seems to be "if only they'd act more like Americans!" One day, we can wistfully hope, Arabs, Turks and Too much for my taste on the twentieth century, and not enough on the pre-Ottoman world, but that can be forgiven. The slightly oily feeling I got reading the last few chapters, however, cannot: Lewis seems to know an awful lot about the middle east, but, as with many biographers, all that knowledge seems to have made him less, rather than more, keen. The take-away of the last half of the book seems to be "if only they'd act more like Americans!" One day, we can wistfully hope, Arabs, Turks and Persians will embrace the system that has laid waste to their world over the last two centuries. Only then will they be able to re-take their rightful place at the bottom of the world's food chain. That weirdness aside, the first half is very readable and interesting, the second half intermittently interesting and very repetitive. But this book really tries to cover far too much, too quickly. There's no need for chapters about generic processes of modernization ("And then we gave the Arabs newspapers! And then we gave them coffee! And then we gave them..."). Finally, it's downright surreal to read a book about the Middle East written not only pre-Arab-Spring, but pre-9/11. To put it mildly, Lewis was *not* a good prognosticator, and his repeated references to (unnamed) democratic governments in the area seems laughable this side of the winter of 2010/11.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Omar Taufik

    This was a wonderfully written book by the great author and historian Bernard Lewis. Having in mind the period covered starting from the ancient middle East ending by the year 1994, I would consider this book very comprehensive. As the author mentioned in the beginning of the book, there was a reasonable highlight on the ancient middle East before Christianity and Islam, and a very detailed and interesting emphasis and analysis of the social cultural aspects of the region's history. The bulk of th This was a wonderfully written book by the great author and historian Bernard Lewis. Having in mind the period covered starting from the ancient middle East ending by the year 1994, I would consider this book very comprehensive. As the author mentioned in the beginning of the book, there was a reasonable highlight on the ancient middle East before Christianity and Islam, and a very detailed and interesting emphasis and analysis of the social cultural aspects of the region's history. The bulk of the book will of course cover the Islamic portion of the region's history having it the dominant religion and civilization in the area for the last fourteen centuries. As I mentioned, various aspects are analyzed covering culture, religion, state, economics, population intellectual nature all in great talent displaying real knowledge of the subject. Change, the need for it, the challenge from inside and outside, the actual process and results are all discussed in equal knowledge and talent. I could consider the author presenting his opinions in a fair manner according to what he believes and has researched in such a detailed and even sensitive subject in human history. This book is a high recommendation to readers interested in the subject looking for a comprehensive book and experienced knowledgeable author.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bill Sleeman

    Following the visit of some Muslim speakers at my church I took another try at The Middle East by Bernard Lewis, a book I gave up on a few months back. While I was almost able to complete it this time I must admit that again I found myself increasingly stymied by Lewis’ style. I really wanted to enjoy this book and not just get through it but neither happened – didn’t enjoy it, did not finish it. To be fair the content is brilliant but his writing is so slow and so very academic. It seemed tha Following the visit of some Muslim speakers at my church I took another try at The Middle East by Bernard Lewis, a book I gave up on a few months back. While I was almost able to complete it this time I must admit that again I found myself increasingly stymied by Lewis’ style. I really wanted to enjoy this book and not just get through it but neither happened – didn’t enjoy it, did not finish it. To be fair the content is brilliant but his writing is so slow and so very academic. It seemed that there was nothing that warranted a story, no event or person enchanting enough – despite Lewis’ very obvious respect for the people and culture – that sang out, just a straight forward recitation of facts and events. One might argue, so what if the book “didn’t sing” - but my time is valuable and I expect to be engaged and informed when I invest my time in non-fiction, if not then I am moving on to something else. The Middle East is very well researched and offers a thoughtful and responsible analysis of the Middle Eastern experience that, along with the good ancillary materials (maps, illustrations, indexing), make this a solid work but hardly an exciting one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    2000 years in 387 pages - A great effort but somewhat unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong - I am came to this book as a true fan of Bernard Lewis. His book Crisis of Islam was one of the more thought-provoking books I read last year. However, this book is quite different than 'Crisis'. It's scope is massive, and it is a history book rather than a work of examination and informed conjecture. Lewis addresses these shortcomings in his introduction and admits that it will be a difficult undertaking 2000 years in 387 pages - A great effort but somewhat unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong - I am came to this book as a true fan of Bernard Lewis. His book Crisis of Islam was one of the more thought-provoking books I read last year. However, this book is quite different than 'Crisis'. It's scope is massive, and it is a history book rather than a work of examination and informed conjecture. Lewis addresses these shortcomings in his introduction and admits that it will be a difficult undertaking to do it well. He acknowledges that whatever format he chooses to cover this history, it will be unsatisfying for some. I give him credit for doing it well, but not as great as the other books and articles of his that I've read. The book is broken up into three general sections. The first is a general overview of the Middle East over the last 2,000 years... Read more at: http://dwdsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karim

    A great and comprehensive introduction to Middle Eastern history. It is obvious the Bernard Lewis is a great historian and explains history, as well as culture, cleanly and accurately. To be fair, his opinions tend to leak into his historical narrations. Opinions and viewpoints seen in his Atlantic article "The Roots of Muslim Rage" color his explanations for historical phenomenon. This may frustrate those that disagree with him. But it does not distract the reader from the history at hand and se A great and comprehensive introduction to Middle Eastern history. It is obvious the Bernard Lewis is a great historian and explains history, as well as culture, cleanly and accurately. To be fair, his opinions tend to leak into his historical narrations. Opinions and viewpoints seen in his Atlantic article "The Roots of Muslim Rage" color his explanations for historical phenomenon. This may frustrate those that disagree with him. But it does not distract the reader from the history at hand and serves more to provoke thought rather than persuade.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Alonso-Niemeyer

    After traveling to the Middle East and interacting with many wonderful people who live in a Muslim culture, I became fascinated with everything "Arab". Lewis is very good in his descriptions and evaluations of the culture through the eyes of an Englishman. This book is not for the beginner reader. However, after you are finished, you understand completely who our brothers and sisters in the other side of the world. As one of my must cherished friends likes to say "God is great"...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carissa

    This is a good overview of the history of the Middle East. Lewis begins with the Christian period, but most of the book covers the history of the Middle East after the creation of Islam. The book was published in 1995. Reading it 11 years after 9/11, with all that has happened, gives the hopefulness of the final chapters a particular bitterness. I do recommend it. It's very accessible and thought-provoking.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Atwood

    At first, I thought this might be a really exciting book about how events in the last 2,000 years have culminated into the situations we hear about in the news today. However, the focus was on things that were a lot more relevant if you lived 1,000 years ago. Interesting to a degree, but I could only take so much of "Abu Muhammed so and so lived until the time of the blah blah tribe, which was just before the sassanid caliphate". So, I actually stopped reading it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pablo Rossello

    Very good introduction to the history and culture of the area. Thorough without being boring, well documented, written in a simple prose -excellent book for Middle East beginners like me. Didn't make me an expert, but I can now know my way across the different dynasties, from the Ummayyads to the Abbasids up until the Ottoman Empire.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chimezie Ogbuji

    An excellent and detailed account of the time leading up to the reign of the prophet mohammed up until just prior to 9/11, covering all aspects: anthropological, political, military, art, food, etc. An incredibly useful insight into the forces underlying the current string of revolutions in the region.

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