UNDERSTAND THE MIDDLE EAST (SINCE 1945) Stewart Ross

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A leisurely walk across the library and I fumbled upon this book on that last book shelf. The catchy print and the title made me curious enough to start reading it. An astounding feature of this book is its beginning which reads like “Only got a minute?” The next page (even catchier) reads “Only got five minutes?” followed by the final one which reads “Only got 10 minutes?”. . This brief intro (actually a summary) is enough to make a case in itself and I was completely hooked to it. One of the best examples of building its rapport is within these three summaries. A quick view on my personal reader’s experience is here for you all.

The book in itself contains almost all major events in Middle East since 1945 (as righteously claimed in the title of the book) till 2010. It’s a really good book which provides as a basic introduction to a region and not just a country. This makes it unique since it covers many aspects of deep-rooted problems within middle east. For e.g. the cause of problems between Israel-Palestine, it covers the Iran-Iraq war with major emphasis on the events leading to the war. The senseless invasion of Kuwait. 9/11 and many other events like Intifada in Palestine/Israel, Operation Desert Storm, Sues Canal conflict etc..

Although the book does not go into deep intricacies of foreign relationships, it does intend to cover a large amount of history within its relatively short content (it consists of just 292-310 pages). It reminds me of my history books during school days.

The language is very easy to follow with a tinge of euphemism. I found the little note section of “Insight” after every important event to be extremely useful. This “Insight” provides some extra perspective on the event. e.g. In the third chapter of “The promised land”, the “insight” section states that the country “Israel” is officially “State of Israel” and that the word “Israel” referred to old testament figure Jacob and meant one who had striven with God. Now this is a fact which none of us knew for sure.

There are lots of maps of the region although a selection of documentaries would usefully complement the material here. But the sheer content of the book which aims to provide the information on how many countries in Middle East were formed (from Ottoman Empire) and how they traversed through the turbulent history of World war, Cold war and Oil boom, is just commendable. One of my favourite ones on my book shelf now.

 

 

 

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