A brilliant survey of the history and civilisations of the Middle East by one of the world's greatest authorities on the subject
In this readable and wide ranging book, Bernard Lewis charts the successive transformations of the Middle East, beginning with the two great empires, the Roman and the Persian, and covering the growth of Christianity, the rise and spread of Islam, the waves of invaders from the east, the Mongol hordes of Jengiz Khan, the rise of the Ottoman Turks, and the changing balance of power between the Muslim and Christian worlds.
In the end, Lewis concludes, a question mark hangs over the Middle East. Though outside powers will undoubtedly continue to intervene whenever their energy supplies are put at risk, they will not, as in the heyday of European imperialism, attempt to impose their will and their way of life. The Islamic countries of the region may thus, for the first time in centuries, be left to solve their internal problems on their own. And how will they solve them? Will they, Lewis asks, "unite for peace," "unite for jihad," or "go the way of Yugoslavia and Somalia" and disintegrate? Historians are not called upon to be prophets, but this magisterial tour of 2,000 years, nothing if not realistic, suggests a parlous future for a region cursed with more than its share of authoritarian regimes.