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
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