We have nearly 50 interviews discussing a vast range of books on the Middle East: Books on individual Middle Eastern countries, books on the culture of the Middle East, the religions and politics of the Middle East and books on the conflicts that have beset the region in recent decades.
There are a number of interviews recommending books on the general history of the Middle East. Jo Tatchell recommends the books on 'Desert Nations', Philip Mansel on the Levant. Issandr El Amrani recommends his best books on Understanding the Arab World and Eugene Rogan on the Arabs. With a slightly wider perspective, Tim Mackintosh-Smith and Ziauddin Sardar both recommend their best books on travelling in the muslim World.
There are recommendations for books on individual countries:
A number of our interviews deal with books on the role of Islam in the Middle East. Malise Ruthven looks at Islamism. Others look at Islamic militancy, the essence of Islam and Islam and modernity. Peter Adamson looks at Philosophy in the Islamic World.
Others choose books that deal with conflicts in the Middle East. Nikolaos van Dam looks at the Syrian civil war. Gabriel Piterberg looks at Zionism and anti-Zionism. Other interviews cover the Iraq War, Al Qaeda, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On a more historical note, Gershon Hundert chooses his best books on Jewish history, Norman Stone his best books on Turkish history, Kanan Makiya his best books on Iraqi history and Ali Ansari his best books on Iranian history. Thomas de Waal chooses the best memoirs of the Armenian Genocide.
Islam and the Foundations of Political Power
by Ali Abdel Razek
by Ibn Khaldun
The Venture of Islam, Volume 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times
by Marshall Hodgson
Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia
by Robert W. Hefner
Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany
by J. Christopher Soper & Joel S. Fetzer
It’s widely assumed that in the ideal Muslim society there is no separation between religion and the state, but even in some of the earliest caliphates, the secular and the religious were rarely as closely aligned as religious conservatives would have us believe. Here Ahmet T. Kuru, Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University, recommends books that help trace the historical relationship between Islam and the state—and points to strands of secularism that may hold the key to a happier relationship between Islam and liberal democracy.
The Middle East has been and still is much misunderstood. Here Fawaz A. Gerges, a professor and Middle Eastern specialist at London School of Economics, recommends five pioneering works of history and social science that will help you to understand the evolution of the region’s society and politics.
America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier
by Robert Vitalis
The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism
by Toby Matthiesen
Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt
by Pascal Menoret
Being Young, Male and Saudi: Identity and Politics in a Globalised Kingdom
by Mark C Thompson
Girls of Riyadh
by Rajaa Alsanea
Saudi Arabia is one of the most misunderstood countries on earth. Here Saudi-born anthropologist, Madawi Al-Rasheed, chooses five books to help understand the country, its society and the very modern challenges it faces.
The Proof of the Honey
by Salwa Al Neimi and Carol Perkins (translator)
In the Eye of the Sun
by Ahdaf Soueif
by Ghita El Khayat & Robert Thompson (translator)
Classical Poems by Arab Women: A Bilingual Anthology
by Abdullah al-Udhari (editor)
I Sweep the Sun Off Rooftops
by Hanan al-Shaykh
Arab women have been writing erotic literature for millennia and have become more creative and daring in recent years in the wake of the Arab Spring and the spread of social media, says novelist Selma Dabbagh, editor of a new anthology, We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers. Here, she picks five key examples of erotic writing by women of the region.
Gershon Hundert, Leanor Segal Professor of Jewish Studies at McGill University, talks about recent revisions to the conventional understanding of Jewish history and selects the most influential current writing on the subject.
Greek Thought, Arabic Culture
by Dimitri Gutas
Great Medieval Thinkers: Avicenna
by Jon McGinnis
Avicenna's 'De Anima' in the Latin West
by Dag Nikolaus Hasse
Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker
by Sarah Stroumsa
The Teleological Ethics of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī
by Ayman Shihadeh
Arabic philosophy was hugely influential during the Islamic Golden Age; at one point, the Persian polymath Avicenna’s influence outstripped that of Aristotle. But a strong tradition has continued in the centuries since, explains Professor Peter Adamson, as he selects five of the best books on the subject.
Israeli historian Gabriel Piterberg tells us about works of scholarship that have challenged the Zionist Israeli narrative of modern history.
Turkey’s most read author, Elif Shafak, describes Istanbul as ‘a she-city with a female personality’. She chooses five books on Turkey, including a biography of the she-city in all its vibrant energy and intensity.
The philosopher argues that a culture of debate, in which people of all backgrounds can openly discuss the truth, is philosophy’s real answer to conflict.
The author explains the allure of desert nations, through a discussion of books including Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger and Sultan In Oman by Jan Morris
The war on terror relied on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the threat, say author and academic Malise Ruthven. He picks the best books to get a better understanding of Islamism.
Before the era of nation states, the great Levantine cities of Beirut, Alexandria and Smyrna experienced a golden age, as the author of Levant, Philip Mansel, explains
Author and Arabist Tim Mackintosh-Smith tells us about the rich tradition in Islam of travelling to gain knowledge, and directs us towards some of those, both Western and Arab, who’ve inspired with their tales of life on the road.
The historian reflects on the past 60 years of American involvement in Egypt and tells us, after the Arab Spring, what may make the coming years different
Jason Burke, journalist and author of an acclaimed book on Al-Qaeda, tells us what he learnt about militants when he was caught in a firefight in Iraq—and suggests five books we should read to understand their motivations.
The Middle East scholar tells us what to read if we’re to understand where upheaval in the Arab world came from, and where it’s going.
The influential blogger and journalist tells us why there’s so much misinformation about the Arab world, and suggests what we should read to improve our understanding of the region’s history and current turmoil
The award-winning BBC documentary maker Peter Taylor tells us what he learned in his ten years investigating Al-Qaeda, and suggests what we should read to understand where the group came from, and what it’s still trying to do
Jerusalem has been at the center of conflict for millennia and its current problems cannot be blamed on Israelis and Palestinians alone, says bestselling author and former Catholic priest James Carroll. He picks the best books to understand Jerusalem’s complex history and its message of peace which still gives him hope.
Raja Shehadeh’s choices highlight the suffering endured by the Palestinian people over the last 100 years. But they also celebrate the country’s natural beauty, vibrant culture and multi-textured humanity.
Princeton professor Bernard Haykel’s fascinating selection of books paints a worrying picture of a country at odds with the cultural riches of its past. With internal conflicts and poor governance, Al Qaeda is the least of its problems.
The British lawyer who converted to Islam in 1973 and founded Wynne Chambers – one of the first chambers to specialise in Islamic law in the UK – discusses five books on the essence of Islam
CEO and founder of Demotix, the multiple-awardwinning open newswire, discusses five books on Islam and Modernity and the politicisation of Islam in the last decade.
Acclaimed novelist and author of Mornings in Jenin chooses five books about Palestine by Palestinian writers. She says what she sees among the young people in Palestine is humbling, ‘they have such remarkable spirit’
Eugene Rogan is Director of the Middle East Centre at Oxford University. His research focuses on the social and economic history of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire and the Arab states in the 20th century.
Award-winning broadcast journalist and author chooses five books on Israel. He says that perceptions of Israel and Palestine are always filtered through expectation and prejudice – which makes the problem unsolvable
The Professor of Postcolonial Studies at City University, London, talks to us about Islamic travel books. Explains how travel should be both a physical and a mental exercise focussed on immersing oneself in local culture
The lawyer who prosecuted Ariel Sharon discusses the brilliance of maverick political thinkers and says: “It takes at least a generation to establish democracy.” Highlights work of philosopher Gilles Deleuze above all
The deputy-editor of Economist.com selects five books that have given him a deeper understanding of the situation in Israel and Palestine – books that have helped him open him up to “other people’s point of view”