The Middle East: a Social Geography

The Middle East: a Social Geography

The Middle East: a Social Geography

The Middle East: a Social Geography

Excerpt

The pages here following are, in my intention, far from constituting a text-book of Middle Eastern geography or society, or a political analysis of its many problems, or an orderly statistical or economic review; they are, indeed, no nearer to being a substitute for all or any of the many excellent books already published on these subjects than are the sketch-maps to taking the place of the large-scale atlas which, I hope, readers will have open at their elbows. I have felt compelled to pass over important aspects of the Middle Eastern region and its component countries, almost or entirely in silence: among such aspects being those of military resources, prominent personalities, constitutional or legal issues, budgets and balances of trade. And even on matters upon which I have tried to say something fairly specific -- topography, races and languages, religions, climates, natural resources and agronomy, industry, communications -- too little detailed information can be given in the compass available to satisfy a reader (perhaps, in this case, a student) desirous of a full picture of a given aspect of things in this or that territory. For most of such detail, and not less for an appreciation which may be widely different from mine, he can very easily look elsewhere: the literature of these countries, as of today, is abundant and accessible. My attempt has been to offer an objective but informed account of the different races and social forces found in Middle Eastern environments, urban and rural, in terms of the particular circumstances, problems and hopes of the dozen separate and more or less divided states of the region. It is my hope that the non-specialist reader may from all this learn something true and perhaps suggestive, while the expert may find not too much to offend him. The views expressed are those of one whose personal experience of these countries has been extensive, I hope receptive, and certainly sympathetic. In fully half of the territories covered, and particularly those of the Fertile Crescent, I have, as a long-term resident, had many friends over many years.

At the time of writing, much of the region is, as notably as any in the world, in a continuing state of visible, often revolutionary, change in almost every field -- social, cultural, economic, political. Time will, henceforward, greatly modify the conditions here pre-

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