I need a good recent Middle East history...

With everything that’s going on in the world currently regarding Israel and its interactions with its neighbors, I would really like to find a relatively unbiased book (or website) I could read regarding the establishment of Israel, Jewish settlement in the area before that time (within the last couple of centuries, I’ve read the OT), and the Muslim nations that were in the area at the time (for instance, why the extreme reaction to Israel when Muslims had traditionally regarded Jews as People of the Book).

I’m asking because I’m a pretty liberal person who hears a lot of rhetoric from both sides (“Israel kills children!” “Palestinians are all terrorists who hate non-Muslims!”) and I’d like to read some more about the history.

I started this thread here because I’m really trying to get book/media recommendations. I’m not trying to start a controversy.

I don’t know if you can find and unbiased book, since Isreal only came into being after WWII. Anybody in Europe that criticizes Isreal, goes to jail for anti-semetism, when they don’t retract it. The likely hood of finding a book not blatently biased from before the area became Isreal, is much better.

Well, I’d start by avoiding any book that **Harmonious Discord ** wrote. :rolleyes:

Try The Middle East by Bernad Lewis and From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman.

The latter perhaps less academic but well written nevertheless. T.L.F. has been accused of being biased by both sides so take that into consideration when you read it. He does have a tendency to bring too much of his own interpretation into his writing. I find him interesting but a bit tempted to draw simplistic conclusions. But still very worth the read. Perhaps the best place to start.

As with many complex subjects, it’s best to read a few points of view to get a more complete perspective.

Good luck.

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin is another good book on the subject. He gives the history of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire which is where the modern history of the Middle East began.

I took a course in modern Middle East history, and I can recommend a couple of good books on the subject.

A History of the Modern Middle East was the basic textbook. It covers the entire region and includes 9/11 and the War on Terror. It is expensive and fairly academic, but very detailed since much of the current conflicts have their roots well before today.

Strangers in the House is the autobiography of Raja Shehadeh, who is a Palestinian activist. It’s an autobiography, so it is somewhat self-serving and biased, but is a fascinating read nonetheless.

You might also look for some of the autobiographies of the founders of the modern state of Israel. Again, as autobiographies, they can be self-serving, but they have good insight into the reasons and climate in the Middle East during and immediately after WWII and the founding of Israel.

Oh, and Harmonious Discord, you might want to educate yourself before you make such statements. There are unbiased histories and commentaries about the Middle East and Israel available.


Thanks very much, guys.

Agreed. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do, and this should give me a good start.

No politics, just book recommendations?
Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.

I don’t believe this for a nanosecond. Cite or retract it yourself.

I think he’s mistaken the laws against Holocaust denial for a prohibition against criticizing Israel.

I think so too. But those laws do not exist in all countries in Europe, have nothing to do with Israel as a country, and are treatment of one side issue of anti-Semitism rather than the core hatred.

In short, everything he said was wrong in a way that fuels misunderstanding if not hate. I want him to acknowledge it and retract it in so many words.