In The Brief History of the Middle East author Christopher Catherwood attempts to show how our entire world is ultimately shaped by events that have unfolded or have their origin in the Middle East. Catherwood insists that, unless we allow ignorance to blind us—which to a certain extent it already has—the Middle East must not be viewed as "some strange place over there." Three of the world's major organized religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all stem from the area, as do defining civilizations from Ancient Egypt to Babylonia. Catherwood examines this storied region through the lens of the present by asking these questions. How did the Palestinian issue arise? Why does Osama bin Laden harp on the glories of Moorish Spain? Why did Islamic extremism come to be a substitute for Arab socialist nationalism for so many? Today's headlines have clear historical explanations, and The Brief History of the Middle East will bring that concept into focus.
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As consultant to the Strategy Unit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet, Christopher Catherwood teaches history at Cambridge University and each summer at the University of Richmond (Virginia), where he is an annual Writer in Residence for their History Department. He is the author of Churchill's Folly.From Booklist:
Historian Catherwood (Churchill's Folly, 2004) first set out to write a concise history of the Middle East before the 9/11 attacks. His objective was to enter into the then-hot and currently even more volatile debate between scholars Bernard Lewis and Edward Said over the origins of East-West tensions. With this book, Catherwood revisits this debate--generally positioning himself alongside Lewis--as part of a broader thesis about the necessity of understanding the inextricability of Western history from its Middle Eastern origins. Much of Catherwood's analysis deals with the consequences of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, which he finds to be a root cause of many modern challenges, including Islamic terrorism and the Palestinian conflict, as well as the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. Ultimately, however, Catherwood would have us look even further back to more distant battles, such as the massive defeat of the Byzantines by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert, for insight into the present. Brendan Driscoll
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