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A History of the Modern Middle East

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  932 Ratings  ·  70 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
Sep 29, 2010 John Rivera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Tracy E.
Oct 17, 2015 Tracy E. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beginner to Intermediate Middle Eastern History Readers
An excellent, detailed book. I rate 4 stars because it's not quite complete. Yambert's The Contemporary Middle East: A Westview Reader fills in the gaps of some topics, such as coverage of the "Arab Spring" and other less studied Middle Eastern countries. Cleveland and Bunton's, however, explores the 19th century to earlier and the Ottoman Empire in depth while Yambert's doesn't, which is why Yambert's is "contemporary" history. Both books were published in 2013 on the same press. They are great ...more
Dec 03, 2010 Yazeed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 22, 2014 Matthew Hines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 26, 2007 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 09, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 24, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 18, 2008 D.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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 it was amazing  ·  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!
Apr 12, 2008 Collin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Axel Ívarsson
Oct 12, 2016 Axel Ívarsson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it as a part of my History: Middle East course last semester. For a history book, which can be dry to read, this one was highly enjoyable and finely structured.
Aug 31, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very basic text but it highlights many of the bog events that have shaped the Middle East.
Jan 09, 2008 Five rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a concise entrance into the history of the middle east beginning with the eighteenth century.
Sep 21, 2015 Jesper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ready for that exam boyy
May 28, 2016 Timothy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fools-gold
Edition reviewed: 2nd (applies to all editions)
10/10 Best furniture wedge ever used

William Cleveland hopes to paint a detailed picture of history in “A History of the Modern Middle East;” unfortunately, his picture is painted like a blind Picasso wearing a blindfold—poorly corresponding to reality.
Cleveland is detailed, explains foreign terms well, gives an accurate history of the Ottomans, and the book’s inclusion of maps would make Bilbo gleeful. Thus end the positives.

In the preface to the se
Jul 26, 2014 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jan 12, 2017 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent survey. It is well researched, balanced and fair. It is also highly readable!
Sep 12, 2008 Hotavio rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Norman Jangbu
Jun 17, 2016 Norman Jangbu rated it really liked it
A comprehensive look at the history of the Middle East from the birth of Islam to 2008. Excellent for someone looking to understand the political evolution of the Middle East without wasting time on minute details. The work explains the reasons, the inter-connectivity between events in enough detail for the reader to gain a thorough understanding of ME societies, but is easy to read because it is not heavy like a more academic book might be (even though this is a university text book). An analys ...more
Aug 30, 2009 Jake rated it it was amazing
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
Deși ”Istoria modernă a Orientului Mijlociu” are în principal un rol și o structura de manual, acribia și imparțialitatea în tratarea anumitor teme sensibile fac din această lucrare o cheie amplă de descifrare a situației din Peninsula Arabă și a spațiului islamic. Cleveland oferă principalele jaloane în desfășurarea istorică a evenimentelor, oferind pe lângă descrieri cronologice veridice și explicații ale acțiunilor și deciziilor factorilor implicați pe scena conflictului, toate într-o tonalit ...more
that cute little red-eyed kitten
Now this is what I expect from a good history book. Seriously. My only negative impression is that the book is so loaded with information and sometimes detail that the book seems to grow longer as you read it. "The pages are thin and the writing small." But it's really good and I have no objections to it. The organization of the matter is sometimes a little confusing, as we go between countries back and forth in time, but I don't know exactly how this should be done differently. At least it's cr ...more
Nov 23, 2015 raymie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exactly what it says on the tin!

Found myself sadly lacking in an understanding on why the middle east is the powder keg it seems to be today. Even after reading some books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I felt i needed a broader look at the area and this book delivered exactly that.
I feel the way the book is broken up helps give a sense of the importance of each subject matter, where as a chronological order may have meant some subjects were overshadowed by a larger event, even though tha
Mar 15, 2012 Brody rated it it was amazing
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
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
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.
Carl Westphal
Nov 21, 2010 Carl Westphal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 20, 2015 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
Excellent history of the modern Middle East. One book I've had for several years but just now read in it's entirety. Cleveland breaks down the history of political and religious relationships and influences that have created the governments and popular uprisings of countries of the Middle East. Fascinating area of the world trying to straddle its own self determination and the embracing of western influence.
Jan 16, 2015 Kai rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 04, 2013 Christiaan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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“The Safavids were either of Kurdish or Turkish origin. In the late thirteenth century, a member of the Safavid family founded a Sunni Sufi religious brotherhood in Azerbaijan, the Turkish-speaking region of northwestern Iran. The brotherhood attracted an ardent following among the Turkish pastoral tribes of the area, and by the late fifteenth century its influence had expanded into Anatolia and Syria. The heads of the brotherhood led the tribes in a series of expeditions against the Christians of the Caucasus, thereby acquiring temporal power as well as enhancing their reputations as servants of Islam. Their Turkish followers were known as Qizilbash, the Redheaded Ones, after the red headgear they wore to identify themselves as supporters of the Safavid brotherhood.” 0 likes
“The Safavid brotherhood was founded as a Sunni order, and historians are uncertain when its leaders adopted Shi‘ism or even if they did so before the reign of Isma‘il. It is known that for a few years during Isma‘il’s youth, he was sheltered by a local Shi‘a ruler and may have acquired his Shi‘a convictions from this experience. Whatever the sources for his belief, Isma‘il became a fervent Shi‘a and was determined to make all of the inhabitants in the territories under his control adopt Shi‘ism. When he proclaimed himself shah in 1501, he also proclaimed Twelver Shi‘ism to be the official and compulsory religion of the state.” 0 likes
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