I went to audible and got this book because we seem to bashed with European and US history but have very little exposure to anything else. Given that the middle east is the cradle of modern civilization, the topic of the book seemed a perfect place to start; I had listened previously from audible the really great books "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," "Charlemagne," "Postwar" and "No Simple War," all books that are strongly recommend for those like me who want an entertaining yet detailed account of historical events.
Gosh, was I for a disappointment for this one. What the authors call "history" is an accumulation of names and labels with almost no context about the social environment where things happen. It's very difficult to relate to anything when things are exposed in a dry sequence of historical terminology without any broader analysis that can fit things together. I do understand the role of religion, but does a proper history book needs to offer extensive quotes to religious texts; shouldn't we expect the authors to summarize these quotes and draw the conclusions from observed historical behavior. And, not that religion is unimportant for the history of the region, but shouldn't the rise of religion be explained as part of the social environment rather than an exogenous fact?
But perhaps what I miss the most is the lack of un-historical things we find in the best history books, the historical anecdotes that give new light to the dry historical facts and which, I suppose, would require a lot more research. Combine encyclopedia-style exposition with some religious quotes and this is what you should expect there.
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