This book is one of the least informative texts I have ever read on Middle East history. It is full of unsupported (and unsupportable) opinions/assertions instead of stating the facts. It ignores so many events in Islamic history that would inevitably reveal Islam and its rulers in a negative way that it must certainly be intentional. The authors fail to mention many of the troubling actions of Muhammed (assassinations, political intolerance, banditry, etc), avoids discussing the intolerance of Muslim rulers such as Hakim who destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, avoids discussing the mass slaughter of Hindus in India, and the list goes on. It also provides an unnecessarily biased account of European imperialism which blames Europe for everything yet portrays Arabic and Turkish imperialism, which was arguably far more intolerant and harmful to the occupied lands than Arabs and others under Europeans, as something wonderful. This is a totally biased whitewash of Middle East history and was worse than a waste of time as it is actually counterproductive to any effort at understanding the history of the region. If my children brought this book home from school as a textbook, I would have to speak to the school to have the text changed or remove my child from the class. If you want a book about the Middle East that, although biased in favor of Islam and the Arabs, actually provides sufficient information about the region that you can glean some understanding, get History of the Arab Peoples by Hourani or any of the books by Bernard Lewis who is far more objective and honest both about the history of Islam, Arabs and especially the Turks.
The message of the book is highly biased and the authors make no effort to hide their fringe left-wing agenda. Be it the selection of facts, the depictions of historic personalities or the overall tone of the story, its _very_ pro-Arab, especially when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict, and "anti-imperialist" (the West is always there to blame for everything bad that has ever happened in the Middle East) and pro-socialist elsewhere. Quick summary: everything Israeli/British/French/American = bad and greedy, Arab=good or at least well-intended.
In short, if you are looking for truth - please look elsewhere. The "history" as relayed in this book has never existed except in Arab nationalists' and, well, a few Western professors' minds.
This history of the Mideast is indeed concise and to the point. It is generally a good introduction to the subject but flawed.
The book reads like a textbook for high school, rather than college level. As a textbook it suffers by arguing with previous, unnamed historians about interpretations of certain events. Without any referent, these arguments add little to the narrative. The textbook style also interrupts the narrative, so the audiobook does not flow as well as other narrative histories.
The authors mar the overalll subject by maintaining a multiculturalist view of the Mideast. While Islam and Arabs did indeed produce marvelous science, mathematics, and philosophy, the authors continually extoll these over the accomplishments of Western Civilization. This bias isn't merely a matter of viewpoint, but a conscious effort on the part of the authors to denigrate the accomplishments of the West in favor of those from the Mideast. This presentation, especially when dealing with current politics, turns a blind side to real understanding of contemporary events.
Tom Weiner's reading of the book is excellent and the audio recording is of high quality. I would recommend this book as a supplement to understanding the Mideast, but not as a first book or introduction to the subject.
This should be retitled: "A Rambling Editorial on the Greatness of Islam, the Evil of Zionist Demon Dogs, and How American Imperialist Swine Get What They Deserve." I'll try to be more clear. There is no discussion of ancient history of the Middle East. This "history" begins with Mohammed. For the first 14 of the 18 hours of runtime the authors at least maintain the facade of serious historians, however as the issues become more contemporary the semblence of objectivity evaporates. The last hour and a half of the text is an open editorial, decrying Israeli "war crimes", abusive American foreign policy, and open pleas for Barack Obama to save the Middle East from the evil policies of lying Neo-Con Cowboys. The authors have no shame about expressing their own political opinions rather than presenting the facts so the audience may decide. Save your cash, this is no history, and it is no deal.
A thorough look at how the Middle East got to today. The information contained is educational with the purpose of enlightenment of how all the societies firmed and interact with each other. I found it helpful for my own personal understanding of the people and the way they view foreign society.
A female narrator with a crisp voice. An interesting story not read like someone was droning words off a Koran.
Boring as hell. Just that.
What could be more boring than a 19 hour book about religion?
A 20-hour book about religion.
Unenthusiastic and ready to dole out religious punishment.
Boredom and disappointment. I had no idea religion was so utterly boring.
I want my money back.