Good books / Documentaries on the Middle East?
December 12, 2009 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Good books or documentaries about the middle east

Hi all,

I am planning to do an independant research project for my political science class on the middle east. I need a topic and a general direction so that I can start researching for a thesis. I was wondering if you guys could recommend any good documentaries, books, or anything that would help me get started. I would like to talk about some aspect of the effects of US presence / policy in the region. Maybe some clash of civilizations, but any suggestions would be helpful

posted by happydude123 to Education (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
The Middle East by Bernard Lewis
posted by something something at 11:14 AM on December 12, 2009

what level is this for? What you get recommended for Freshman year vs. Senior+ year may be very different.

and, an obligatory: "Talk to your professor" answer as well.
posted by edgeways at 11:16 AM on December 12, 2009

i've recommended it many times before, but everyone should read it...

palestine by joe sacco
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2009

Careful with the Bernard Lewis books, on one hand they are "good", in a general knowledge sort of way, but the one I read ~6-7 years ago had a very.... Western slant on things, which didn't translate into negativity per se, but I will say my Iranian Professor was pretty critical of it.
posted by edgeways at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2009

Orientalism by Said.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2009

You should realize that very few books about the Middle East are truly unbiased, and tend to present a specific perspective.

If you want to talk about US policy or presence in the region, at least as pertains to the Arab-Israeli conflict, I personally can recommend The Much Too Promised Land, by Aaron David Miller. He's quite middle of the road, having spent a couple of decades on US policy in the region.

For a history of US policy in the region, try Power Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. Disclaimer: the author is currently Israel's Ambassador to the US. Before that, he was a scholar, but his leanings are clearly to the pro-Israel side.
posted by j1950 at 11:47 AM on December 12, 2009

All the Shah's Men is an interesting account of the CIA supported coup against the Iranian government in 1953.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2009

Dreams and Shadows by Robin Wright, surveys the problems and possibilities in the whole region.
posted by pkreutzer at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2009

Broad ranging, but very, very readable: The Arabs: A History by Eugene Rogan or just pick a chapter out of Cleveland's A History of the Modern Middle East.
posted by proj at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2009

Daniel Yergin's The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power won a Pulitzer Prize. It's a good, and comprehensive, look at the history of oil in the Middle East.
posted by Houstonian at 1:37 PM on December 12, 2009

Fisk's The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East is excellent and covers a lot of ground.
posted by xqwzts at 2:49 PM on December 12, 2009

My professor used Divided Jerusalem as a textbook during a 4th year course on the politics of Jerusalem... I thought it was balanced and readable.
posted by acro at 9:32 AM on March 2, 2010

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