- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (August 7, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684832801
- ISBN-13: 978-0684832807
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Discover what to read next through the Amazon Book Review. Learn more.
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
To gain a better understanding of contemporary Middle Eastern culture and society, which is steeped in tradition, one should look closely at its history. Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East, spans 2000 years of this region's history, searching in the past for answers to questions that will inevitably arise in the future.
Drawing on material from a multitude of sources, including the work of archaeologists and scholars, Lewis chronologically traces the political, economical, social, and cultural development of the Middle East, from Hellenization in antiquity to the impact of westernization on Islamic culture. Meticulously researched, this enlightening narrative explores the patterns of history that have repeated themselves in the Middle East.
From the ancient conflicts to the current geographical and religious disputes between the Arabs and the Israelis, Lewis examines the ability of this region to unite and solve its problems and asks if, in the future, these unresolved conflicts will ultimately lead to the ethnic and cultural factionalism that tore apart the former Yugoslavia.
From Library Journal
A noted Middle East historian, Lewis (Islam and the West, LJ 5/1/93) has written a 2000-year history of a region stretching from Libya to Central Asia. He concludes with the effects of the Gulf War and the entry into negotiations of the PLO and the government of Israel. Beginning his history before the rise of Christianity and Islam, Lewis seeks to illuminate the connections between the ancient Middle East and the modern region. He outlines the histories of pre-Islamic Arabia and the two great empires of Sasanid Persia and Byzantium. These entities formed the backdrop for the rise of the Prophet Muhammed and the formation of the Islamic polity. Lewis concentrates on the cultural, social, and economic changes in the region while keeping the political narrative to a minimum. He includes many direct quotations from a variety of contemporary sources to highlight a given period and place, providing an immediacy of experience not offered by conventional narrative or analysis. Highly recommended.?Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Part of the difficulty in keeping up comes from the way in which Lewis presents his information. This is not your typical linear narrative, starting at a particular era and then ploughing forward through time. Though there is an overall progression (we start out in the Roman era and end up in current times), the author also often backtracks when discussing different aspects of the civilizations he covers. So while the book starts out in a relatively chronological manner in the first few chapters(Romans>Byzantines-Crusades>Mongol Invasions>Turkic Ascendency-Ottomans), we suddenly detour to Part IV of the book, entitled "Cross-Sections." Lewis then proceeds to break down different societal components such as "The State," "The Economy," "The Elites," etc. in which he backtracks to provide additional details about groups he has earlier portrayed. This is where I for one, who am looking for enlightenment on these subjects and have no real background scholastically speaking, had a hard time keeping track. I consider myself at least a moderately attentive reader, and a lover of history from Herodotus to Gibbon to Parkman to Tuchman, but felt swamped at times here from the sheer wealth and breadth of information. One also had better be up on their geography from about six different eras in that part of the world. Though there are a series of maps in the appendix, obscure towns, countries and dynasties are paraded forth at a rate that is taxing for the general reader. While we may be familiar with place-names such as Mecca, Medina or even Basra, how many western readers are going to have a mental image of the area that Yathrib sits in? or Nishapur? or Bukhara? The maps don't really help either, as the regions that have the most obscure towns are in areas that are the most darkly shaded, and the print is so fine, it's impossible to make the names out.
All that said, if you want to learn about a region that up until recently not many westerners were really all that interested in, Lewis is an excellent teacher. Just be warned that he is rather a dry lecturer. He's not a "school of color" historian. He's an academic and a pure scholar. There are vitually no anecdotal details. No human interest. No exciting passages or descriptions of great battles. He is a purveyor of information and you will come away from reading <The Middle East> with a lot more information than you came in with. If, like me, you think being at least reasonably well-informed at times such as these is important, you will want to investigate this book.
Second, Lewis aspires to do more than recite names and dates; he hopes to convey something of the texture of Middle Eastern life. His is a thoroughly modern history, full of striking details and illustrative personalities. While some of his information will no doubt be familiar to a reader with basic knowledge of the Middle East, Lewis draws extensively on his own original research, insuring that much of his book will be novel even to the most practiced Middle East hand.
Third, the author resists the small-minded orthodoxies of political correctness. Lastly, the book is exceedingly well written. Recently dubbed "one of the great prose writers of the last fifty years," Lewis has a knack for the vignette, the turn of phrase, and the telling quotation.
Lewis wrote his first published article in 1936 and celebrated his eightieth birthday earlier this year. The Middle East is a fitting capstone to his long career, surveying with broad strokes so many of the topics he has previously written about in more detail. The reader can now benefit from this lifetime of study within the covers of a single book.
Middle East Quarterly, Sept 1996
Although most of the book involves the Ottoman period, because of the volume of original sources, Lewis starts not with Mohammad classical period, but in the pre-classical empires of the Roman Empire and Persia. The perspective illustrates Islam's genius for adapting both indigenous and exogenous alternatives to local problems. Geographically, Lewis stays fixed on Ottoman and Persian territory, with only occasional references to Central Asian, European, African, and Southeast Asian history. This keeps the reader immersed in the region without following Islam's extended borders in other regions.
Another aspect I liked was an emphasis on Ottoman history, and not classical Islam. There is entire section on culture, law, religion, and social classes, which acts as an interlude between the early Ottoman Period and modern times. Here he addresses very succinctly and diplomatically many issues relevant to contemporary discussions. Many readers no doubt will be disappointed by his apparent reticence, but he avoids placing the debate in the classical period.
Lewis makes a controversial argument that is certainly counter-intuitive and offensive to Muslim fundamentalists. The West has not intervened in the Middle East, except for limited economic and political contacts over short periods. As a matter of fact, if Western countries had supported their limited forays with substantial aid and attention, the region might have benefited. Instead, Lewis blames the marginalization of the Middle East both on the demise of the region as a crossroads between east and west, and on the Muslim governments for not realizing the consequences of this change. Lewis points the finger mostly at Muslims, not the West.
The only bad aspect of this book is its length: too short. Although Lewis blames this on the dearth of research on Ottoman official documents, there is certainly more spaces to be filled with information. But Lewis's outline is very fruitful and compelling. It might not satisfy advocates, but it challenges both Muslim and Western proponents to examine their approaches.