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other reviewers seem unimpressed but i thought it was a fine book, covering the whole sweep of the history of the area. it seemed well balanced (at least, moreso than most histories of the area - face it, everyone who writes about the middle east has their axe to grind, but this bloke seemed at least to be trying!) and very informative. well worth the effort!
22 of 22 people found this review helpful
(I am not finished with the book, I'm still in the 1980's)
The sound quality isn't high but I had no trouble understanding it. I had zero problems with the narrator's accent, he speaks well and clearly. The important part - the information - is great stuff. I know a lot more about the M.E. now than I did before, and that was my goal. It doesn't seem excessively biased to me at all. The western world, and later the Israelis, have been a domineering, bullying force in the M.E. for centuries. No surprise there, right? Mansfield doesn't paint western powers as the bad guys, just as the guys with the big stick. How is that inaccurate?
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Anyone that writes a history 'up to the present' knows that their work is likely to start dating quite quickly. If you write on the Middle East then events move on at an even greater pace. There are two things you need to know about this book. One is it really only picks up the story at the start of the 19th century, and gradually goes into more and more detail as we travel through time. The second is the book was clearly written in 1990 as the author mentions the build up of forces following Sadaam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, but makes no mention of the war that followed. Just think what has happened since then. The Gulf War, the second Gulf War, Israel invading Lebanon, Iranian threats on nuclear weapons, some self determination for Palestine, the Arab Spring and so on. So much has happened in the last 21 years that this book inevitably leaves the story only half told, and the final chapter, pondering what the 1990s might hold, is naturally redundant to say the least.
Given a book this age that criticism is inevitable, but aside from that this is quite an interesting tale which reveals much of the complexity of inter-arab relations as well as the more obvious problems of the region. The reader never puts a foot wrong but his delivery is not particularly inspiring. Also the quality of the recording can vary, with the sound suddenly becoming a fair bit quieter for a while, then louder again, or the quality of the acoustics change. This is a minor point, but a bit off-putting.
If you are considering downloading this book then clearly you have an interest in the subject, and this book will satisfy that interest, if somewhat dryly. Despite its faults it did the job and I do not begruidge the time I spent listening to it.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful