Summary of A Concise History of the Middle East

Westview Press,
First Edition: 1979 more...

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A Concise History of the Middle East book summary
The cradle of civilization was never peaceful. Problems that festered in the Middle East for centuries remain unresolved.


7 Overall

8 Importance

7 Innovation

8 Style


At more than 500 pages, this textbook is not exactly "concise," as might be expected given the panoramic scope of its topic. Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson ambitiously try to explain the factors driving Islamic culture and its influence on Western civilization, right down to the glossary and chronology. Their main focus is the impact of Islam on Arab history. Once they reach modern times, the authors’ strong views shape their explanations, sometimes pushing the book toward commentary rather than history. Some readers may find that their interpretations can be partisan (anti-Bush, pro-Palestinian, accusing the U.S. of terrorism), but such continuing controversies are inherent in Middle East history. As the authors correctly point out, today’s society offers no solutions to many of these critical issues, most of which have festered for centuries. To draw the most from its strengths, getAbstract recommends this major sourcebook primarily to those who are interested in premodern Middle East history.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the Middle East became an early center of civilization
  • How waves of conquest shaped its history
  • How Islam began and what it teaches
  • What factors shape modern Islam and the contemporary Middle East


"The Land of the Seven Seas"
The Middle East is the geographical link between Euro-Asia and Africa. It sits on the major water routes linking the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Bosphorous, Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles, the Aegean, the Sinai Peninsula and the Nile Delta, which explains why...
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About the Authors

Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. is professor emeritus of Middle East history at Pennsylvania State University. He wrote Modern Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State. Lawrence Davidson teaches history at West Chester University. He is the author of several books, including America’s Palestine and Islamic Fundamentalism.

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