The Middle East

Anything with a vague historical bent

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Marcus Woodhouse
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The Middle East

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:40 am

2000 Years of History from the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day (well 1995 actually). Bernard lewis Orion Books ISBN 1-84212-139-1 (this print is from 2004)
A book that came to me with high praise, not least by the author's own publicists, but which did not, for me live up to my expectations.
I found the book incrediably difficult to get into and really struggled through it. Large chunks of the later chapters on state, commerce etc were repeated from earlier chapters which made me keep stopping and look back to re study the context that they were now being placed ( I also began to find this lazy and tiresome-as if the author had nothing new to say and was padding out his work). On the other hand parts of the history which I would have found perhaps the most interesting were neglected, in my opinion. For instance although claiming to cover 2000 years of history the 7 centuries of pagan/Jewish and Christian history are covered in about 10 pages, dispite their being a continued Jewish/Christian and pagan (Zorastrian and Buddist) presence within Arabic/Islamic states to this day (and in the region as a whole).
In a similar vein the Crusades and the crusader lands of Outremer are covered in about a page and a half, and while these did not have the same social impact as the Turkish and Mongol invasions as these did in time covert to Islam and develop into Islaimic empires, the crusader kingdoms did and in my beliefs continue to effect the way the Arab/Islmic middle east looks at the West (and "Christendom") and vis-a vis the West the Arab world.
Even before the events of this year I would also argue that this is a book in serious need of being revised and updated, in the light of the last decade the somewhat rosey image of the middle east that existed (in the authors own mind at least) in 1995 is, by now, laughable. Big disappointment was this to me.


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