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Let me start by saying that I have a platinum audible membership which I renew several times a year (in other words, I have listened to hundreds of audible titles). It is now 3AM and I have just finished this Great Course "The United States And The Middle East," which I have been consuming voraciously in a whirlwind session of listening. This "Great Course" is not only the best Great Courses title I have listened to (and I have listened to about half of the Great Courses titles), this is the best book on tape that I have ever listened to in my life. I make this statement based on how much my entire worldview has shifted while listening to this program.
I had no idea to what extent America has been "romantically involved" with nearly every major country in the Middle East. It's like "Melrose Place" and "Grey's Anatomy" combined. We have had so many "affairs" with so many different "parties" it's no wonder that our intentions are seen as slightly "less than pure" at this point. We are like a serial philanderer who has slept with every woman in his office, but has amnesia and instantly forgets about it the next day. We go into work and every single woman is glaring at us angrily and we have absolutely no idea why. Meanwhile, everyone else in the office knows exactly why Cindy at reception hates us.
I used to wonder why it seemed like Islamic terrorist attacks against the United States were a relatively recent phenomenon. Why didn't 9/11 happen in the 1980's? Why did the attacks against the US embassies in Africa, the bombing of the USS Cole, the bombing of the WTC, and 9/11 all happen in the last 25 years? Why do the terrorists hate us? Aren't we good people? What the heck is going on in the Middle East? All of these questions are answered in this lecture series, and the answers are enlightening. Spoiler alert: our approach in the Middle East has been less like Superman and more like the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately after the rage wears off and we transform from the Hulk back into Bruce Banner, we have no idea that when we were trying to save a guy from drowning, we also smashed an extension bridge and injured two dozen motorists. At the end of the day, Americans are good people and eternal optimists. If only we could just get a little better at paying attention to recent history, we could stop repeating foolish mistakes in the Middle East.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
This course is a great introduction to anyone interested in the history of US-Middle East relations which has so shaped the world we live in today. From WWI, the resulting fall of the Ottoman empire, to the Iranian revolution, the Oslo peace failures and 9/11, Professor Salim Yaqub gives us a balanced and insightful narration of events.
What really caught my interest in this presentation was Professor Yaqub's recounting of the reasons that lead to the Iranian revolution and the extreme feelings against Americans in the region. I was already aware that our strong support for the rather unsavory Shah was a main factor, but some of the finer details suprised me: for example, I had no idea that bad driving by our GIs resulting in ridiculous levels of death by vehicular manslaughter was one of the sparks that set off the proverbial powder keg.
Really the one qualm that I had with this presentation was the Professor's extremely slow reading speed. Even at 1.5X speed the recording still seems to run at a pace slower than normal conversational speed. He could have gotten so much more information in 12 hours.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11?
Generally I enjoy the 'Great Courses' but in this case, whilst there was a good coverage of the facts of the history, there was little or no insight or opinion offered.
Add to this the fact that the speaker, who presumably had written the course, didn't seem to be able to read his notes and repeatedly tripped up over his text, this proved extremely distracting and annoying.
What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Get a speaker who has some insight and can read.
What did you like most about The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11?
It was a good overview from the U.S. having no involvement in the Middle East to the way it is now and it does seem to be all about oil (then Israel and attempts at peace).
What about Professor Salim Yaqub’s performance did you like?
It was very slow so you'll find that speeding it up to 1.5x makes it easier to listen to, although I listened to it at 2x quite easily.