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A History of the Middle East Paperback – October 26, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0143034339 ISBN-10: 0143034332 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 2nd edition (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034339
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A brilliantly deft and well-informed guide... coherent, dispassionate and remarkably inclusive. (The Times Educational Supplement)

About the Author

Peter Mansfield (1928–1996) corresponded regularly for the Financial Times, Economist, and London Sunday Times on Middle Eastern affairs. The author and editor of numerous works, he is best known for his comprehensive study The Arabs.


Nicholas Pelham has served as editor of the Middle East Times and writes frequently for the Economist and Financial Times.


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Customer Reviews

I was very impressed with the first 340 pages of this book.
A Physician
These categorizations are not always wrong, nor are they always right, but they appear very blatantly based on favoritism of sides rather than what actually happened.
Dianne Roberts
I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good, unbiased introduction to the Middle East.
Flag Football

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Egoman on March 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book contains everything a modern reader who is anything but a professional Middle East scholar could ever want to know about the history of the region (especially about the Arab-Israeli conflicts). Most importantly, it is presented in a strictly factual, unemotional manner which allows the reader to understand the current problems there and to make his or her own judgments without the facts being skewed or, indeed, being portrayed in a subjective light at all. With this account under one's belt, it is impossible to see the conflicts of the Middle East in a wholly black-and-white, right-and-wrong way. Indeed, the cold facts show how all parties involved have countless reasons for their behavior, and how no one party can ever be completely blamed.
Having also read what Mansfield himself considered to be his crowning achievement, "The Arabs", I actually feel that this is a superior work, at least for my purposes. "A History of the Middle East" presents a more sweeping view for the amateur (but serious) scholar, and can be used as a good reference despite being more than a decade old.
Mansfield follows the region from prehistory, through the Ottoman Empire, and into the modern age, explaining events and motivations in a reasonable and straightforward manner.
It must be mentioned that this is not an exciting book for those without a passionate interest in foreign affairs. But those who are driven to know and understand the goings-on of the modern world will find it an invaluable addition to their library.
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful By A Physician on February 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I believe the original author Mansfield would be disappointed in what Nicolas Pelham has done with this "revised and updated" version of his book. Mansfield died in 1996 and Pelham was given the task of "updating" this history of the Middle East. I was very impressed with the first 340 pages of this book. I was looking for an even-keeled, unbiased history of this very charged and polarizing subject. I was very pleased to find that Peter Mansfield had done exactly that. Mansfield's original work went up to the first Gulf War and provided a very even history of events from ancient times to the immediate post-Gulf War period. He provides a very readable account that puts current events into context without betraying his own bias. I had been recommending this book to many friends, before I came to Pelham's contribution that picks up in the post war period. He doesn't even try to contain his contempt for the United States and it's allies. The language and tone of the book change dramatically and it is easy to tell where Pelham picks up in the 13th chapter: The Inter-War Years. His contribution amounts to an intensely felt indictment of the United States and it's policy in Middle Eastern affairs. He loses credibility when he throws in trite and petty personal attacks on Western leadership that have no relation to the events he is describing. Even the grammatical integrity changes. There were multiple grammatical and spelling errors in Pelham's chapter. The transition from Mansfield to Pelham is very abrupt and disruptive, regardless of your political leanings. I am very disappointed as the first 340 pages were excellent and exactly what I was hoping for. If you must buy this edition than be prepared. I would have given Mansfield's book 5+ stars and Pelham's contribution 1 star (being generous). I still gave the book a 4 star average because Mansfield's work deserves recognition and it comprised the bulk of the book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rufus Pisanus on October 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is not only very informative and well written but also manages to be reasonably impartial on some of the hottest issues in international relations. The tone changes slightly when Pelham takes over from Mansfield but this is also when we approach the present time. I appreciated the fact that criticism is not one-sided as undoubtedly the Israel-vs-Palestinians problem cannot be summarized by placing all blame on any one side. In fact, I found the exposition more balanced and less negative against Israel than I was expecting from somebody who studied arabic in Damascus and is currently living in Jordan.
Perhaps the Pelham portion would deserve only 4 stars but the rest of the book would be 5+. I would have appreciated a few more and more informative maps but an overall 5 is well deserved.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
Mansfield first presents a survey of history before WWI then disentangles the woof and warp of 20th century Middle East history right on up to the US "Desert Storm" Gulf War. Great for putting all the bits and pieces together that you've witnessed for the last 20 years and also for finding out how things got that way and what is behind tonight's latest from the region. Very readable.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Pratyush Srivastava on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book to understand the Middle East Politics. To understand the origin of the current state of affairs and the inherent causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its evolution. The book is an interesting read with the origins dating back to the ancient history, the evolution of Islam. The rise of the Sauds, Ottoman empire. The role played by the British and the constant British-French feud to control the middle east. The Egyptian politics and the Sudanese.

This is just a glimpse of what is really in store. A must read for anyone interested to get a first hand knowledge of 2000 years of the Middle East politics.
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