Middle East History – 5 Books You Must Read

Middle East History – 5 Books You Must Read

Studying history or reading the history of other people’s, such as Middle East history books, can make us wiser in our public choices and more richly human in our private lives.


Because reading history books helps us understand people and societies.  Studying history is essential for good citizenship and moral understanding.

So, reading or studying these middle eastern history books will help us in many ways, and perhaps help a little with world peace.

1. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East – David Fromkin

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The Ottoman Empire is considered one of the greatest regimes in history, spanning over 600 years. Fromkin examines in great depth how events that led to the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s and formation of the modern Middle East impacted the entire world. Insightful, thorough and dense in detail, this book is not light reading material. For history buffs with patience, this volume will make you somewhat of an expert on Middle East history.

“Wonderful…No book published in recent years has more lasting relevance to our understanding of the Middle East.” ―Jack Miles, Los Angeles Book Review

2. A History of the Arab Peoples – Albert Hourani

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As the title implies, Hourani’s book is a comprehensive history of the Arab people as a society. There is no focus on wars and mythologized heroes. The book covers developments in economy, arts, literature, urbanization, politics and the various Islamic schools of thought. If you want a better and in depth understanding of Arab identity that transcends media portrayals, A History of Arab People is a wonderful source to get started.

3. From Beirut to Jerusalem – Thomas L Friedman

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Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times.  He spent 10 years in Beirut and Jerusalem, reporting firsthand the conflict that has been going on in the region. His book offers a detailed look at the various political decisions that influenced the Arab-Israeli conflict. Insightful, enlightening and engaging, Friedman offers a broader explanation and understanding of the sources of conflict and antagonism in the Arab world.

4. Lawrence in Arabia – Scott Anderson

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British Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence was a legend for his liaison role in the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule. Anderson gives a detailed account of Lawrence’s efforts, from when he arrived in the Middle East, his involvement in war efforts, and what he actually contributed. This volume de-mythologizes a historical figure with an objective exploration of his actual accomplishments. The author also examines the lives and careers of other less famous historical figures who had a hand in the outcome of the war.

ED: yes, this is the same individual made famous in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

5. A Concise History of the Middle East – Arthur Goldschmidt Jr.

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For the uninitiated, Middle East history is long-spanning and complicated.  The authors of A Concise History of the Middle East have done a fantastic job in putting together this easy to read and follow volume. The book traces Middle East history from before the advent of Islam during the medieval era, all the way to turbulent modern times. It is a valuable resource for those seeking to increase their knowledge and understanding of the Middle East.

Best Selling Non-Fiction Graphic Novel 2016

Best Selling Non-Fiction Graphic Novel 2016

No longer just comics for kids, a non-fiction graphic novel can contain a world of interesting information for anyone.

Have you ever wondered if you could learn a difficult subject like economics?  Or have an interest in history, but unable to bare the dry tomes of history text books? What about the history of beer?  In a comic?

Then you will love the non-fiction graphic novels.  The format forces the author to be clear  with their ideas, in a simple format will appeal to many adults who are interested in a subject but not willing to read pages of dry non-fiction.  From beer to economics, history to your favorite new age texts, pick up a comic non-fiction graphic novel and learn something new this year.

5 Best Selling Non-Fiction Graphic Novel in 2015

1. The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World’s Favorite Beverage from 7000 BC to Today’s Craft Brewing Revolution – Mike Smith & Jonathan Hennessey

Non-Fiction Graphic Novel

If you enjoy the regular weekend beer at the pub, then you will enjoy the stories your favorite beverage has to tell. The Comic Book Story of Beer is an exciting tour of human history, told from the perspective of beer. It is an interesting and accessible look at the history of beer that will make you want to re-read it for better appreciation of the beverage. Beautiful pictures, interesting text – perfect excuse for a beer!

2. Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work), in Words and Pictures – Michael Goodwin

Non-Fiction Graphic Novel

If economic theory sounds dry and boring, think again. Economix is the graphical crash course to give you a firm grasp of the basics with no effort on your part. This book is a creative concept that makes a complicated subject accessible to everyone. There is also a sense of humor and self-awareness on the author’s part that made the book enjoyable to read and feels nothing like a textbook.

3. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb – Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Non-Fiction Graphic Novel

To cram the intricate history of the atomic bomb into the graphic format seems like an ambitious attempt. Yet, Trinity defies expectations for being able to pack in so much detail, from nuclear science to the political motivation behind the development of the atomic bomb. Far from a boring historical lesson told in illustrations, the book is an interesting look at the human aspect and historical factors which brought into being a powerful weapon of mass destruction.

4. The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman

Non-Fiction Graphic Novel
It may seem unconceivable and even laughable to depict the atrocities of the Holocaust through anthropomorphic cats and mice. Read the Maus collection, and see if you are able to resist not being drawn into the world of the Speigelman family. Entertaining, yet surprisingly moving and believable, Maus gives the reader a real sense of the horrors of the Holocaust through a family of mice.

5. The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel – Paulo Coelho

Non-Fiction Graphic Novel

The graphical adaptation of Coelho’s bestselling novel retains everything that is inspiring about its source material and makes it even more accessible. The novel about realizing one’s destiny has gained worldwide acclaim for being sort of a self-help book in the guise of a novel. If you are not into instructional guides and lengthy wordy books, this graphic novel is the best pick-me-up book for a motivation boost.


History Books: 15 Must Read Modern History Books

History Books: 15 Must Read Modern History Books

The history books on this list are a comprehensive study of modern history beginning with the 19th century globalization. They cover East Asia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, and the Middle East. For general history books, check out a previous post here.

15 Must Read Modern History Books

East Asia History Books

1. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 2nd Edition –  Andrew Gordon

History Books Andrew Gordon covers the important aspects of Japanese history. He starts off by dealing with the Tokugawa and ends with the current political situation at the turn of the century.

2. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War – John W. Dower

History Books This is the best comparative look at race and ideology in the Pacific War.

3. Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty – Bradley K. Martin

History Books This book gives a great explanation of Japanese occupation, revolution and Kim Il-Sung’s rise to power in north Korea.

Western Europe History Books

4. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World – Mark Kurlansky

History Books This book uses a somewhat obscure but still fascinating subject matter to narrate the rise of America (among other things). His work is very readable.

5. Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 – Tony Judt

History Books This is a very detailed and good overview of Europe’s post war history.

6. The Balkans: A Short History – Mark Mazower

History Books A brief Summary of Balkan history to the present day. A great starting point to see why people tend to have been wrong about the Balkans.

Eastern Europe History Books

7. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin – Timothy Snyder

History Books A very readable account of the events in the countries caught between the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany at the beginning of WWII, starting with Ukraine’s Holodomor and the political tensions that rose from Stalin’s paranoia of outside influence during those events.

8. Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State – David Satter

A very readable book covering the rise of the criminal influence in Russian government following the downfall of the Soviet Union. Really uses his understanding of Russian psychology gained by years as the Moscow correspondent for the WSJ to give insight into what happened and why.

9. The Russian Revolution – Sheila Fitzpatrick

History Books This is a short summary of the Revolution which is extremely readable.

North American History Books

10. 1861: The Civil War Awakening – Adam Goodheart

History Books A popular history book that discusses the mood of the nation in the lead-up to the Civil War.

11. Parting the Waters : America in the King Years 1954-63 – Taylor Branch

History Books A Pulitzer Prize winning book detailing the civil rights movement in the United States.

Middle East History Books

12. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents – Charles D. Smith

History Books This is a concise history of the conflict that contains readable documents which are very relevant. It is largely low-bias and perfectly captures both sides of the debate.

13. Turkey: A Modern History – Erik J. Zurcher

History Books This book is one of the most expansive modern history books bout Turkey. It manages the events in a clear way, and connects the important events to the overall history of the middle east.

14. A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind – Michael Axworthy

History Books Although it is often vilified, Iran is a nation of great intellectual variety and depth, and one of the oldest continuing civilizations in the world. This books gives a great account of its history.

15. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity – Timothy Mitchell

History Books An innovative account of the history of the modern world in eight interlocking essays about Egypt in the 20th century which deal with everything from land surveys to the plagiarisms of mid-century anthropology to a history of the Aswan Dam from the perspective of a mosquito.

For more history books, go to our History page.