A Concise History of the Middle East

A Concise History of the Middle East

A Concise History of the Middle East

A Concise History of the Middle East


Praise for earlier editions: "An examination of the growth of different cultural & national roots in the region, examining both the roots of conflict & bitterness & local struggles for independence & recognition. The result is a lively, involving text." Midwest Book Review "An excellent text.... Goldschmidt's approach is conversational, direct, & trenchant.... Extremely succinct, yet a model of clarity.... When it comes to the favorite myths that enwrap the Arab-Israeli conflict, he is incisive in his critique. No party escapes his analysis unscathed, but each is sympathetically portrayed in very human dimensions with special concern for deeply held attitudes & their roots." Middle East Journal "A lively & interesting account that is likely to allow students to understand & learn more than they might from a stuffy academic text.... A balanced interpretation which allows more than one view of any number of controversial issues.... Thorough & carefully balanced." The History Teacher


When I started to teach Middle East history, I was sure that I would never write a textbook. Nothing in my graduate training or early research experience had led me to value writing for beginners in my field. Textbooks were a means by which second-rate minds made their reputations or feathered their financial nests. When I wrote the first edition of A Concise History of the Middle East after twelve years of teaching, I feared it might reveal a deflated self- image or a touch of avarice. Would it, I wondered, meet a general need?

Evidently, it has. I have met or heard from countless people who have either taught from the book or gotten their first exposure to Middle East history from having to read it for a class. I felt that teachers and students needed a book that reflected current scholarship, did not hide its ideas behind a pseudoscholarly style addressed to pedants, and did not reinforce political or ethnic biases. Students--and members of the wider English-speaking public--deserve clear explanations of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Middle East's role in the energy crisis, and the Islamic resurgence. The book has gone through five editions and, despite the appearance of other general Middle East histories, has become ever more widely used in English-speaking colleges and universities.

More and more scholars, both Middle Eastern and Western, are enlarging what we know about the history of the area. We can--and we must--share their findings with university students, both to arouse their interest in the Middle East and to make them more aware of themselves by exposure to other lifestyles, other areas, and other eras. Teachers and textbooks cannot free themselves from bias, but let us at least make sure that our students see more than one side of the burning issues of the present and the past. Let us also reveal what we know to the wider public. Many people--not only students--care about what is going on now in the Middle East and how things came to be that way.

Any work of art or scholarship follows conventions. When writing a book that introduces a recondite subject to students and general readers, the author must tell the audience what these conventions will be. The English system of weights and measures is giving way to the metric system; this book uses both. Prices expressed in non-American currencies, ancient or modern, are given in 1998 U.S. dollar equivalents. All dates are based on the Gregorian calendar.

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