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A Concise History of the Middle East [Paperback]

Arthur Goldschmidt Jr , Lawrence Davidson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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A Concise History of the Middle East A Concise History of the Middle East 3.7 out of 5 stars (18)
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Book Description

July 22, 2005 0813342759 978-0813342757 Eighth Edition, Eighth Edition
The eighth edition of Arthur Goldschmidt’s widely acclaimed text has been extensively revised to reflect the latest scholarship and the most recent events in the Middle East. As an introduction to the history of this turbulent region from the beginnings of Islam to the present day, the book is distinguished by its clear style, broad scope, and balanced treatment. Written for undergraduate college students, the text assumes no prior knowledge of Middle Eastern history. It focuses on the evolution of Islamic institutions and culture, the influence of the West, the modernization efforts of Middle Eastern governments, the struggle of various peoples for political independence, the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the reassertion of Islamic values and power, the aftermath of the Gulf War, and issues surrounding the Palestinian Question. The eighth edition brings new discussion to the post-9/11 political developments and surveys terrorism in the Middle East, the Iraq War, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Editorial Reviews


"A lively, involving text." -- -Midwest Book Review

"An eminently readable and comprehensive text that gives an accurate and analytical account of Near East history." -- -Lawrence Davidson, West Chester University Praise for earlier editions

"An invaluable introduction and a useful reference book." -- -Journal of Palestine Studies

"Excellent. Nice active voice, engaging, comprehensive, balanced. Particularly the coverage on early Islam." -- -Gina Cirali, Fordham University

"The best single source I have found to introduce undergraduates to the Middle East." -- -Geraldine Forbes, State University of New York at Oswego

"This excellent history provides an informative and balanced background." -- -Booknotes

"Well organized... Straightforward and easy to follow." -- -Choice --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Arthur Goldschmidt Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Middle East History at Pennsylvania State University. He is (with Lawrence Davidson) the author of A Concise History of the Middle East, Eighth Edition, and is the author as well of Modern Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State, Second Edition. He is the recipient of the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the 2000 Middle East Studies Association Mentoring Award. Lawrence Davidson is Professor of History at West Chester University. He is the author of several books, including America's Palestine and Islamic Fundamentalism.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Westview Press; Eighth Edition, Eighth Edition edition (July 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813342759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813342757
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential background to understand events today July 16, 2001
This extremely readable textbook by Arthur Goldschmidt, Jr. was assigned reading for my course at NYU about the history of the Middle East. This latest edition was published in 1998. Naturally there have been changes since then. But this, after all, is a history textbook. I can read about current events in the newspapers. What this book did was to give me that background. And it certainly is a rich background, one that I never knew before.
In clear descriptive language the author describes the Middle East before and after Muhammad and the basic beliefs of Islam. He talks about the early Arab conquests and the differences between Islamic sects. He describes the various empires and discusses the role of European interests and westernizing influences. And he gives the reader a really good understanding of the various the countries and their shifting borders. Finally, he brings us up to date on the causes and conflicts of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Gulf War. It is all fascinating stuff and I soaked it all up, reading quickly and absorbing the context, rather than the details. Not a shabby accomplishment for only 362 pages. Recommended.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Very informative book written by a man who can write to the masses in that he can explain detail of Middle East life, countries, religion and conflicts in terminology that is not too academic but inspiring to read. There is quite a bit of information provided by Goldschmidt who eases the burden of religious Middle East language (foreign to many of Americans) with a glossary for various words, names of leaders, places and things. He includes a historical timeline chart of the great events of the Middle East including excellent maps that keep the reader in place geographically as he covers the evolution of the Middle East by region, dynasties and individual countries. He starts with the definition of history and of the Arabs followed by the land before Muhammad and then a mini biography of Muhammad. What follows is a detailed but easy to read chapter on Islam and how it develops into a civilization. The expansiveness of Islam in the Middle East and the associated power of the Ottoman empire that threatened to dominate Europe and Asia. He covers the invasion of the Mongol hordes and the eventual investitures of the European powers and colonialism as the Ottoman Empire weakens to collapse after WWI. As he writes of the dominance in controling the Middle East by England and France and the initial settling of Jews in the early 1900's the seeds of distrust of the west start to obviously emanate. The term concise history is a bit misleading because Goldschmidt leads his student through WWII and its effect on the Middle East and the birth of Israel and Arab conflict. He also covers the surrogate relationship of English and France in trying to maintain control of trade routes, the Suez Canal and oil along with the USSR attempting to expand into the region. Read more ›
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect beginner's book June 11, 2002
I've read Bernard Lewis and so many others, I can't remember them all. I spend a lot of my free time reading about the Middle East, as my family comes from Iraq. This is the one I recommend for those interested in a general overview of the Middle East without being bogged down by all the caliphs and names of tribes that make other books more complicated (and dull). Read this first, then if you want to delve into more detail this book will guide you to more in-depth reading material. If you know the Middle East very well, and understand its history, then move on. Most people do not know the M. East history as well as Goldschmidt, however, and his balanced view is refreshing.
I have given this book away as gifts and the recipients who read it have praised it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of a difficult and complex region September 7, 2005
By Roger
Dr. Goldschmidt does an exceptional job of covering one of the more misunderstood regions of the past half century. Seldom does anyone write a book on the Middle East that is not seen as biased by some, however, this is as balanced an effort as I have read and as concise as practical. I highly recommend 'A Concise History of the Middle East' to anyone who is interested in learning why this region is such a difficult and complex part of our world.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Start for Understanding the Middle East October 2, 2001
I'll admit I'm a bit biased because Dr. Goldschmidt was the professor for my introductory Middle East history class at Penn State more than 10 years ago. I enjoyed his book and his class so much, that I actually helped teach the class as a teachers assistant for a couple of years. This book is very, very readable and does a great job of explaining the progression of history, culture, feuds, wars, etc. that has led to the modern Middle East situation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Apparently a number of reviewers struggle with the tone and apparent "bias" of Goldschmidt. I was suprised at these accusations as Goldschmidt, in my opinion, presents the issues and perspectives of the various peoples, factions and religions in as fair a manner as is possible, given the tremendous diversity in the region. The first half of the book, detailing the birth, spread and rise of non-Arab empires (the Mongol, Safavid and Ottoman empires) is a bit rushed - I wish greater attention was given the intellectual achievements of the era, but as the title states, it is a *concise* history.

The history really hits its stride mid-way through, as Goldschmidt disucsses the politics of the Middle East in the 20th century. The reasons behind Middle Eastern anti-westernism are complicated; the web of resentments, issues, past slights and mis-interpretations are difficult to clearly explain. In a little over 100 pages, the main points are well laid out, and provide a solid foundation for further study. To summarize, the European "mandate system" driven by British and French imperial designs in the region, in addition to the cultural and economic disparities between urban and rural parts of the Middle East and competing visions among Arabs themselves of what the region should look like (particularly a "pan-Arab" nation led by whom? Egypt? Syria? ) and mis-steps by the United States all conspired to create a wide variety of competing and often hostile camps that perpetuate instability to this day.

I was particularly impressed with Godlschmidt's history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its relation to Arab power politics between Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The perspectives and attitudes between nations and their leaders were clearly and concisely laid out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wondrous Journey
Once in while I get a school book worth keeping and this is that book. With two (2) authors there are two (2) perspectives. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
I really was very happy with price/condition of the book. I always prefer to source books through Amazon since the price point and selection seems to really be better than at my... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kara
4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Gateway
This work is an introductory textbook for college students studying the Middle East. It does its job well. Read more
Published on March 5, 2012 by Robert Lebling
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything you should know about the middle east
It was the end of a semester at my community college and I was in a hurry to register for next semester's elective as slots were quickly filling up for classes. Read more
Published on January 1, 2011 by Trash Winters
2.0 out of 5 stars Biased and unscholarly
This book seemed to be written with a specific agenda that came from a very modern (and biased) perspective toward the Middle East, a perspective that the author projected onto the... Read more
Published on October 11, 2010 by sjjlax
5.0 out of 5 stars very good book
I highly recommend this book as an introductory to the history of the "middle east." It is well written and very informative.

Purchase it and keep it in your library.
Published on October 27, 2009 by Thamanjimmy
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Start....Telling Ending
The first eighteen chapters deal with history of the middle east through around 1970. That is all well and good since, almost forty years on, that history and its impact has been... Read more
Published on February 20, 2009 by D. Megenity
3.0 out of 5 stars Great reader, awful text
I thought this book would have been a great source of information for personal use, however my professor used it as a text and it didn't work well for me. Read more
Published on December 29, 2006 by Faith
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete reference work on Middle Eastern history
At more than 500 pages, this textbook is not exactly "concise," as might be expected given the panoramic scope of its topic. Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. Read more
Published on September 25, 2006 by Rolf Dobelli
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad when they report on history, but...
Not bad when they report on history, but their disdain for President Bush (and idolization of President Clinton) causes their treatment of the current Middle East turmoil to suffer... Read more
Published on August 3, 2006 by Rod Walsh
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