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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best introductions out there...
It is hard to overstate the value of this relatively short introduction to Middle Eastern history. Rather than attempting a traditional narrative, Gelvin's history emphasizes ways of conceptualizing Middle Eastern history, allowing readers to see, for example, the Constitutional Revolution in Iran and the the Young Turk Revolution in the Ottoman Empire, as part of the...
Published on October 12, 2005 by tarihci202

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, too Academic
This book is a good book. It's very insightful and all. However, it is written in a very academic tone and is "dry."
Published 13 months ago by Johnathan Norris


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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best introductions out there..., October 12, 2005
It is hard to overstate the value of this relatively short introduction to Middle Eastern history. Rather than attempting a traditional narrative, Gelvin's history emphasizes ways of conceptualizing Middle Eastern history, allowing readers to see, for example, the Constitutional Revolution in Iran and the the Young Turk Revolution in the Ottoman Empire, as part of the same general process. This makes Gelvin's work unusually valuable for readers with some basic knowledge of the Middle East while helping newbies to understand the basic outlines of Modern Middle Eastern History without getting lost in a sea of names and dates. Gelvin is one of the brightest and most original thinkers in Middle Eastern studies today and, even when one disagrees with him, there is an intellectual verve here that is sure to engage.

The weakness to Gelvin's thematic approach is that readers with limited background may sometimes feel the need to remind themselves of basic facts. If the glossary, timeline, and biographical sketches at the end of the book do not suffice for this, William L. Cleveland's A History of the Modern Middle East would make an excellent companion volume.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, insightful, witty..., January 25, 2005
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- "Robert K." (California, USA) - See all my reviews
This book is great not only for those who are well-versed in the history of the Middle East, but also those who are interested in the subject but lack an extensive knowledge of it (i.e. those who became genuinely curious only after 9/11).

This book places events in the history of the modern Middle East in the greater context of world history and world events which were happening at the same time. Looking back at the book, it's now difficult for me to understand why all historians wouldn't do the same thing.

And while the author is obviously an expert in the field and has done a great deal of research and analysis, it's also clear from his style of writing that he is a teacher- it's written in such a way as to help the reader understand: organized, very interesting, rational, backed up by facts, humorous at times, etc..., as opposed to many other books on the Mid-East that simply don't flow, and are based more on speculation and bias than they are on fact.

Also, it's a pleasure to read- lots of great stories are included- and in fact, if you tend not to be interested in history books, the stories alone (separate from the text of the book and therefore easy to find) make this book worth picking up; the kind of stories that leave you thinking, "You've got to be kidding me!"

Finally, I think it's worth mentioning that the chapter on nationalism is absolutely groundbreaking, at the very least (*Note to students of the history of any part of the world: read this chapter. It will forever change the way you study history.)

I give this book five stars all the way...highly recommended to all.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable History, October 6, 2005
I have taken many classes on the Middle East and have had to read many books about it as well. This is the only truly enjoyable history book I have used. Not only is it understandable and easy to read, but the author's side comments and jokes make it really enjoyable. Because of this book, I am finally comprehending much more of the modern period within the Middle East.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ambitious endeavor with a ton of information; a great start in learning about the Middle East, May 10, 2008
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Gelvin's history of the modern Middle East is a great start for someone who wants to become more acquainted with the region. It gives an adequate amount of background information, comes complete with useful primary documents, and presents good critical analyses of the historical events it discusses. It mostly covers the former lands of the Ottoman Empire and Iran--nothing about the central Asian countries further East like Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, etc. It's one of those books that you should read cover to cover because its organization does not render it a useful reference book even with the index. It definitely gave me a great grasp of the region broadly, and can help you decide your interests should you want to delve into one subject more in depth. After all, it's a pretty short book that strives to convey a lot of information about a lot of countries over a long period of time (19th and 20th centuries mostly). A good starter book but it may be a little too broad for someone who already is knowledgable about the subject.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good... but with some unseemly omissions., August 17, 2009
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I would happily agree with most other reviewers; this is one of the best texts that a reader will find on the modern middle east. That said (and I did not notice this the first time through the book), the author does not deign to address many of the atrocities that have happened in the region. For example, the whole of the Armenian Genocide (the deaths of 1.5 million people) is reduced to 3 sentences in the opening remarks of a section. The Shelling of Hama, the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait, and Sabra and Chatila are also glazed over in roughly as much detail.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history - a joy to read, June 16, 2007
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Gelvin writes a concise, clear history of the Muslims world (that is, mostly the middle-east). He writes in an enjoyable fashion - being true to historical objectivity, yet throwing in personal analysis when appropriate. What makes this book even better is that it was written in 2005 and could thus position itself within a post-9/11 world. Overall, Gelvin's history is not only rich, but entertaining to read. Perfect for a student whose brain might be frazzled by semesters of reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Analyses, September 22, 2008
Also it is condensed in its analytical approach, this books remains a major source of reference on the modern aspects of the Middle East; including all the political ramifications and socio-political metamorphoses. Rich in data, analogies and findings.
Highly recommended.
A great book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well written, used as class textbook, December 26, 2011
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I had to purchase this book for a class on the Middle East that I took this semester. The author adds uncommon facts, which added enjoyment to it's reading. I really enjoyed the book. Do note though, that there is a newer edition of the book. I bought this edition because I was auditing the class, so the most recent information was not imperative. The cost difference was dramatic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book to Aid in Understanding, January 30, 2009
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I purchased this book for a course I was taking on the Middle East. It does an excellent job of painting a picture of overall cultural basis for the region and explaining key differences within the region. If you ever wanted to know more than just stereotypes about the Middle East, this book will definitely help.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book for class, May 6, 2014
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This review is from: The Modern Middle East: A History (Paperback)
Purchased this textbook for a university class, it was recommended by my professor. It's a great, concise account of history.
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The Modern Middle East: A History
The Modern Middle East: A History by James L. Gelvin (Paperback - March 4, 2011)
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