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A History of the Modern Middle East

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  703 ratings  ·  50 reviews
This comprehensive work provides a penetrating analysis of modern Middle Eastern history, from the Ottoman and Egyptian reforms, through the challenge of Western imperialism, to the American invasion of Iraq and Iran’s new influence in the region. After introducing the reader to the region’s history from the origins of Islam in the seventh century, A History of the Modern ...more
Paperback, Fourth Edition, 640 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by Westview Press (first published January 11th 1993)
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John Rivera
Why is anyone still reading Bernard Lewis? Cleveland is quite frankly one of the best Middle Eastern historians I've come across in a very long time. This work covers from the rise of Islam to roughly the present (to about 2008) and it does an exceptionally fine job at doing so. As the history of the area progresses Cleveland also begins dividing the chapters into regions and when the regions share common themes, he groups them into such. It's written in such a way that it's very approachable, v ...more
Amazing book! Once you start reading it you won't be able to put it down. The author is very accurate and the book is well researched. Highly recommended.
Matthew Hines
This easy to read volume was the main reason I excelled at my required college course History of the Modern Middle East. It covers a timeline roughly from the start of the Ottoman Empire to today, and discusses the great political and cultural upheavals of this huge swath of lands that forged the volatile region we know today.

I am glad I read this book and took the course. It helped me understand the origins of the religious and cultural conflicts that engulf the region today. It also shed ligh
This was the textbook for my modern Middle East history class... I'm not a huge fan of textbooks generally but this one is pretty well-written, and presents a good overview of political history without sacrificing intellectual commentary and analysis. There's something about reading recent history written in an impassive voice that puts everything into perspective, not to mention its extreme relevance to present day issues. I do think a few members of our current administration would benefit fro ...more
It took nearly 3 months to slog through this dense tome of a difficult subject. Given recent events in the Middle East, it was a good investment of my time. I have a better understanding of how the West sowed the seeds of the current events.
Still working on reading this whole book, but for what I've read so far, it's an excellent resource for understanding why we (as in the Western world) are so responsible for many of the problems that the Middle Eastern world is facing right now.
I was just talking this morning with a friend about the French and the English making the modern Middle East. Who had a more disastorous run of colonialism through these invented countries? Read the history and decide for yourself.
Feb 07, 2008 Sonja rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to know more about the MIddle East
This is great for getting some perspective on the Middle East. I picked it up because I am tired of the News Media's portrayal and wanted a better understanding of our context over there. Great place to start!
It's a textbook and so it reads like one. Great for those who are interested in that geographical region and how they came to be as they are.
a concise entrance into the history of the middle east beginning with the eighteenth century.
A great read for anyone wanting a relatively comprehensive overview of the region, if not lacking a little in the descriptive details. Note that this is a history textbook and so will come across as a bit drier compared to other nonfiction books, but for an introductory classical historical treatment of the Middle East from early Islam to the present day (up to the 2011 Arab Spring in the most recent edition), I'm guessing it won't get much better than this. That said, I hear Gelvin is recommend ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Hotavio rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hotavio by: History of Modern Middle East class
This was the text book for my Middle Eastern History class. I have to admit I was only moderately interested in the topic upon enrolling in the course. In hindsight, I am so glad I did!
The text shed light on the historical complexities of the region, which could be tied into many of the more contemporary newsworthy events that we are bombarded with every day on television.
The book is well written and subjective and easy-to-read for a textbook. Covered are topics such as the foundation of Islam
Jake Keyel
I highly recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in current world events, e.g. the war in Iraq, the rise of "Islamism" or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This book provides the necessary background and historical context that is often missing from debates on these topics. The "Middle East" that Cleveland focuses on is really the Levant (Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria), the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf (Saudia Arabia, UAE, Yemen and Oman), Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. If you ...more
Yana Shevkirova
Helpful for beginners and full of important information, which can be linked to many of the events that had happened during the recent years. Provides a good understanding of the culture, past, politics, governance and IR of the Middle East.
I am profoundly grateful to my college roommate for letting me have and read this book. Other than a history of early Islam I read in Kenya, I have never put the effort into gaining any kind of grounded understanding of the Middle East. I am glad that this was the book where I put that first effort. With the Arab Spring already a year(!) behind us and the crushing of the revolting citizens of Syria growing worse on a daily basis I figured I owed it to myself to get up on the background. If you w ...more
Excellent overview of Middle Eastern history. Strikes exactly the right balance between going in-depth and retaining a broad perspective.
Grace Larkin
The book was concise, well-written, and seemingly non-biased. I found the information quite interesting and easy to understand.
Sathyanarayanan D
Finished reading it by 2010. Updating it here.
I read this for a class and I have it say it's one of my favorites. I felt it presented a very thorough look at the Middle East as a whole as well as the individuality of the various countries. I appreciated the presentation of the information and felt it to be relatively unbiased and incredibly helpful! An easy read, I think it would be a valuable choice for anyone seeking a more rounded and comprehensive foundation for understanding the Middle Eastern political and historic dynamic and it's co ...more
David Horney
not bad for a textbook
Carl Westphal
Excellent introduction to contemporary MENA. Fantastically researched, insightful, and approachable. Topics are well organized into thorough, yet concise, chapters.

Occasionally his analysis needs more proof. His tendency to dismiss atrocities committed by Arab rulers as "for the greater good," contrasted with his cold analysis of actions by "imperial Western powers," got a little old at times - but for the most part his analysis is supported well by facts and events.
Read for:
- Chapter 10: Authoritarian Reform in Turkey and Iran
- Chapter 14: Democracy and Authoritarianism: Turkey and Iran
- Turkey and Iran: Nations at a Crossroads

So, so, so good. I have multiple sticky notes on every page for these sections. Really fantastic wording that stood out from my almost 9+ hours of reading today. Definitely want to come back when I have the time to read up on the other sections.
Fantastic piece on Middle Eastern history during the initial inception and spread of Islam, and most pointedly within the last century. A great book to have on one's shelf for future reference. The latest edition offers a spot-on analysis of the present political climate, and the implications of US foreign policy today, as well as the effects of past ill-sighted foreign involvement.
Despite its daunting premise, this book serves as an overwhelmingly concise introduction to the development of the Middle East over the last fifteen hundred years. If more individuals took the time to read books such as this, we might gain an appreciative, if not sympathetic, understanding of how the region arrived at its present state.
Finally finished! It sure took me long enough... Not as well written as Professor Fisher's book, but much more up-to-date (and, obviously, more detailed for the period it covers). Definitely a worthwhile introduction/overview of Middle East History post-Ottoman Empire.
Kirk Lowery
Beginning with the Ottoman Empire, he traces events right down to the Iraq war. It made clear the Sunni/Shia division, along with the other ethnic ones as well as clarifying the politics that the US has played in the region. All of a sudden, the newspapers began to make sense.
DJ Yossarian
I found this to be an excellent, impartial history of the middle east, that didn't shy away from complexity and nuance. It could have used a few more maps, but the maps it did have illustrated the material well.
Thomas Bundy
Mildly biased, but I've seen worse. Very thorough. If you wanna know everything that has happened in the Middle east over the last 200 years, and you wanna do it in less than 700 pages, this is your book.
Despite being fleeced by the university bookstore for the required readings for Modern Middle Eastern history, I still kept it. That's saying a fair amount for someone on a student budget.
Manages to go pretty in-depth despite covering basically the entirety of Middle East history since the inception of Islam, but stays surprisingly readable and easy to understand.
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