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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

A Concise History of the Middle East

By Arthur Goldschmidt, Jr.
Westview Press, 465 pp,1991

What's surprising about this book is that's good. It's not dry, boring, and long-winded. Why is that a surprise? Because it's primarily a textbook for college students. Textbooks, as most current and former college students, are not always the most interesting books.

But this one is different. Arthur Goldschmidt injects just enough wit, insight, and humor to keep readers engaged. Sections are short and packed with information - there's no wasted words or sentences. The book is indeed concise.

There's not a whole lot of in-depth discussion of any one issue or historical period or figure, but readers expecting that didn't read the title. The book covers all of Middle East history, starting with New Testament times and ending with the 1991 Persian Gulf War. That's about two thousand years to cover, folks.

But you're going to learn a lot. You'll learn a bit about Mohammed and Islam, the various factions within Islam, some of the early Arab and Persian rulers, the struggles for power and statehood, the Crusades, the colonialism of the European powers, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a lot more.

Not unlike many regions and countries in the world, the history of the Middle East is one of conflict. The struggle between its residents and outsiders who imposed their rule on those residents. It's also about religion, of course, particularly Islam, but nationalism has proven to be just as powerful an influence.

So try the book. It's a nice general overview of a region that will always be important in world affairs.

One last note. My book is the fourth edition I bought at a used book sale a few years ago. The latest version is the seventh edition

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