Bernard Lewis, "The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years"

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Bernard Lewis, "The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years"

Bernard Lewis, "The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years"
Scribner | 1995 | ISBN: 0684807122 | 465 pages | siPDF | 9.5 MB

As the birthplace of three religions as and many civilizations, the Middle East has for centuries been a center of knowledge and ideas, of techniques and commodities, and, at times, of military and political power. With the historical—and still growing—importance of the Middle East in modern politics, historian Bernard Lewis's cogent and scholarly writing brings a wider understanding of the cultures of the region to a popular audience.

In this immensely readable and broad history, Lewis charts the successive transformations of the Middle East, beginning with the two great empires, the Roman and the Persian, whose disputes divided the region two thousand years ago; the development of monotheism and the growth of Christianity; the astonishingly rapid rise and spread of Islam over a vast area; the waves of invaders from the East and the Mongol hordes of Jengiz Khan; the rise of the Ottoman Turks in Anatoia, the Mamluks in Egypt and the Safavids in Iran; the peak and decline of the great Ottoman states; and the changing balance of power between the Muslim and Christian worlds.

Within this narrative, Lewis details the myriad forces that have shaped the history of the Middle East: the Islamic religion and legal system; the traditions of government; the immense variety of trade and the remarkably wide range of crops; the elites—military, commercial, religious, intellectual and artistic—and the commonality, including such socially distinct groups as slaves, women and non-believers.

He finally weaves these threads together by looking at the pervasive impact in modern times of Western ideas and technology, and the responses and reactions they evoked. Rich with vivid detail and the knowledge of a great scholar, this brilliant survey of the history and civilizations of the Middle East reveals the huge Islamic contribution to European life, as well as the European contribution to the Islamic world. Review
To gain a better understanding of contemporary Middle Eastern culture and society, which is steeped in tradition, one should look closely at its history. Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East, spans 2000 years of this region's history, searching in the past for answers to questions that will inevitably arise in the future.

Drawing on material from a multitude of sources, including the work of archaeologists and scholars, Lewis chronologically traces the political, economical, social, and cultural development of the Middle East, from Hellenization in antiquity to the impact of westernization on Islamic culture. Meticulously researched, this enlightening narrative explores the patterns of history that have repeated themselves in the Middle East.

From the ancient conflicts to the current geographical and religious disputes between the Arabs and the Israelis, Lewis examines the ability of this region to unite and solve its problems and asks if, in the future, these unresolved conflicts will ultimately lead to the ethnic and cultural factionalism that tore apart the former Yugoslavia.

From Library Journal
A noted Middle East historian, Lewis (Islam and the West, LJ 5/1/93) has written a 2000-year history of a region stretching from Libya to Central Asia. He concludes with the effects of the Gulf War and the entry into negotiations of the PLO and the government of Israel. Beginning his history before the rise of Christianity and Islam, Lewis seeks to illuminate the connections between the ancient Middle East and the modern region. He outlines the histories of pre-Islamic Arabia and the two great empires of Sasanid Persia and Byzantium. These entities formed the backdrop for the rise of the Prophet Muhammed and the formation of the Islamic polity. Lewis concentrates on the cultural, social, and economic changes in the region while keeping the political narrative to a minimum. He includes many direct quotations from a variety of contemporary sources to highlight a given period and place, providing an immediacy of experience not offered by conventional narrative or analysis. Highly recommended.

From Booklist
For more than 50 years, Lewis has strived mightily and successfully to explain the cultures and histories of Middle Eastern peoples to Western readers. The task of writing a political history of the region has already been fulfilled by him and by many others. In his latest work, Lewis has chosen to accentuate the social, economic, and cultural changes that have occurred over 20 centuries. He ranges from seemingly trivial concerns (changes in dress and manners in an Arab coffeehouse) to earth-shaking events (the Mongol conquest of Mesopotamia) in painting a rich, varied, and fascinating portrait of a region that is steeped in traditionalism while often forced by geography and politics to accept change. As always, Lewis is eloquent, incisive, and displays an intuitive grasp of the social dynamics of the culture he describes. Both scholars and general readers with an interest in the Middle East will find this work a delight.


List of Maps
List of Illustrations

Part I – Introduction

Part II – Antecedents
 1 Before Christianity
 2 Before Islam

Part III – The Dawn and Noon of Islam
 3 Origins
 4 The 'Abbasid Caliphate
 5 The Coming of the Steppe Peoples
 6 The Mongol Aftermath
 7 The Gunpowder Empires

Part IV – Cross-Sections
 8 The State
 9 The Economy
 10 The Elites
 11 The Commonalty
 12 Religion and Law
 13 Culture

Part V – The Challenge of Modernity
 14 Challenge
 15 Change
 16 Response and Reaction
 17 New Ideas
 18 From War to War
 19 From Freedom to Freedom

Bibliographical Note
Note on Calendars
Tags: WorldPolitics, MiddleEast

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