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Middle East Reference Book

Middle East Reference Book

Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:01 pm
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Default Middle East Reference Book

Hi

Is anyone able to recommend a decent reference book on the Middle East that covers the history, politics, culture etc of the region, there are loads on Amazon but one that was well written and interesting would be great.

Thanks.
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:07 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Not really sure if many of us on here know how to read more than a few pages at a time so you are probably asking the wrong people. Try your local library.
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:08 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by Thinkingaboutit View Post
Hi

Is anyone able to recommend a decent reference book on the Middle East that covers the history, politics, culture etc of the region, there are loads on Amazon but one that was well written and interesting would be great.

Thanks.
Try The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk.
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by Shadya View Post
Not really sure if many of us on here know how to read more than a few pages at a time so you are probably asking the wrong people. Try your local library.
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:18 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by Shadya View Post
Not really sure if many of us on here know how to read more than a few pages at a time so you are probably asking the wrong people. Try your local library.
I recently read 15 pages from Chicken soup for the soul...
But all of a sudden I felt hungry and got distracted...
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:19 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Guys - it would be great to keep this thread on topic...

Many thanks.

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Old Sep 17th 2008, 5:28 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by NorthernLad View Post
Try The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk.
Thanks, will have a look on Amazon now. Did you enjoy it?

Originally Posted by Shadya View Post
Not really sure if many of us on here know how to read more than a few pages at a time so you are probably asking the wrong people. Try your local library.
Er, thanks.
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 6:05 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by Thinkingaboutit View Post
Hi

Is anyone able to recommend a decent reference book on the Middle East that covers the history, politics, culture etc of the region, there are loads on Amazon but one that was well written and interesting would be great.

Thanks.
wikipedia

actually when I first arrived I was very keen on reading up the old British Arabist/Orientalist writing on the subject - Thiesiger, TE Lawrence etc, but rapidly lost interest due to not acting on it in time! Hope you get your fill of it though. One of Thiesiger's books (Crossing the Sands??) has some brilliant original plate pictures from when he took that journey, describing his stop at Al Ain from Salalah to somewhere in modern Saudi. Flicked through it at the Sharjah Book Fair but by then my interest had waned enough for me not to buy it.

There's a lot of more recent, more political, work as well... Fisk has been mentioned (not read it but I do like his column in the Indy) - also House of Bush/House of Saud, forget the author though.

If you just want a real taster, parts of the Lonely Planet guide to Arabian Peninsula are not too dumbed down. It has quotes from other sources, which might whet your appetite for specific authors/styles/periods... added benefit is that it also has nation sections on all the countries within the peninsula (Oman, UAE, KSA, Q8, Yemen) though naturally not the Levant and as you'd expect from the LP quasi-useful advice on how to get to places (though to be honest there's less to 'see' and 'do' on the peninsula than Levant, Iran etc. (apart from 5* resort holidays and drinking, that is)
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 7:31 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Nice one JVR. I fount Lawrence impenetrable (although actually that is a poor choice of words come to think about it). Thessiger is magnificent and The Sands of Arabia - which I think is the correct title is his best.

He describes the culture in one memorable phrase when after a long and hard leg of his journey through the Empty Quarter with no food he espied a hare and shot it.

The second it was cooked some nomads appeared and so they had to hand the thing over to them!

Nothing changes.
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 7:49 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

try

"Rags to riches" by Mohamed Al Fahim
"arabian destiny" by Edward Henderson
"Arabian Sands" by Wilfred Thesiger
"The Marsh Arabs" by Wilfred Thesiger
"The Great War for Civilisation" by Robert Fisk
"The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" by Amin Maalouf
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Old Sep 17th 2008, 7:51 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by Bijilo123 View Post
The second it was cooked some nomads appeared and so they had to hand the thing over to them!

Nothing changes.
and judging by that remark you somehow managed to miss the entire point and premise of the book. quite an achievment
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Old Sep 18th 2008, 3:06 am
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Fairly comprehensive is Albert Hourani's "A History of the Arab Peoples."

As others have mentioned, Wilfred Thesiger's "Arabian Sands" gives a good account of the southern Arabian peninsular immediately prior to the discovery of oil. I've re-read this book numerous times.
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Old Sep 18th 2008, 3:28 am
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by shiva View Post
and judging by that remark you somehow managed to miss the entire point and premise of the book. quite an achievment
Yes indeed.

No doubt Thesiger viewed the bedu through rose tinted spectacles to support his own world view - but his writing and photography are both brilliant.

I found Michael Asher's biography of Thesiger a very interesting insight.

Asher's "The Last of the Bedu" a collection of interactions with desert peoples is a good read, plus his various accounts of desert travel
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Old Sep 18th 2008, 3:43 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by shiva View Post
try

"Rags to riches" by Mohamed Al Fahim
"arabian destiny" by Edward Henderson
"Arabian Sands" by Wilfred Thesiger
"The Marsh Arabs" by Wilfred Thesiger
"The Great War for Civilisation" by Robert Fisk
"The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" by Amin Maalouf
"arabian destiny" by Edward Henderson
"Arabian Sands" by Wilfred Thesiger

great books to read

of course it took me ages to read them ( my english is just about to improve) , but they are really good books
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Old Sep 19th 2008, 5:44 pm
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Default Re: Middle East Reference Book

Originally Posted by NorthernLad View Post
Try The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk.
I am now reading this, it is reminiscent of wading through War & Peace but I think my enthusiasm for moving to a new region in conjunction with living in a city where I don't know anyone should get me through it fairly quickly!
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