The Middle East is a critically important area of our world. And, with its current prominence in international affairs, media images of the Middle East reach us on a daily basis. Much media coverage, however, is incomplete at best, failing to take account of either the complexities or the historical background of this pivotal region. For most of us, the real story of the Middle East remains untold. What made this crucial geopolitical area what it is today? In coming to terms with the present and future of the Middle East, an understanding of its history is not only highly valuable but essential.
Now, the 36 lectures of Turning Points in Middle Eastern History unfurl a breathtaking panorama of history, exploring a 1,300-year window from the rise of the warrior prophet Muhammad to the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Each lecture focuses on a specific moment that changed the direction of events or the narrative of history.
You'll witness the Battle of Karbala, where Muhammad's heirs - the Sunni and Shia - split once and for all. You'll discover the wonders of the Islamic Golden Age and marvel at the superlative advances in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and literature - and the preservation of classical Greek and Roman wisdom - that unfolded in global centers of learning such as Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba. You'll follow the empire building of the Persian Safavids, the Egyptian Mamluks, and the Ottomans, among others.
The breakup of the Ottoman Empire yielded most of the modern states of the Middle East. The far-reaching impacts of its rise and fall, plus the long-lasting influence of the 18th-century Saud-Wahhab Pact between a desert ruler and a religious reformer, creating today's Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are two more expressions of how the past suffuses the present. The stories you'll discover here are as dazzling as anything in the Arabian Nights and are all the more astonishing for being true.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC
History buff and amateur accountant. Secret passion - hacker stories
Is this worth it? Yes, if you can deal with the arbitrary choices made! ( I certainly can!)
These lectures tread common ground with other great courses up to the rise of the Mamelukes. Then, as a combined Ottoman-Sarafid- Mameluke history, it truly comes to life. Arbitrary, of course, as is the nature of these event compilations (Oman and Libya tend to be wheeled out in passing to make room for more Egypt and Moorish Spain), a clearer idea of what these lectures are about really shines through once we reach the Crusades. The Orient-Occident confrontation as a clash of cultures and how much of this is really baloney! A good overall regional grounding to be listened to on Audible in tandem with (in my humble opinion) Rogan's "fall of the Ottomans" and Anderson's "Lawrence of Arabia". Until a specific series of Great Courses cover the Ottoman Empire (or Mameluke Egypt for that matter), this is the next best thing! I do feel the addition of an Oman-Zanzibar chapter may have added to this but the chap cannot put everything down...
I absolutely loved this audiobook/class.
Dr. Gearon is masterful in his presentation of middle eastern history. I will listen to this again sometime!
well done...might listen again for the things i ay have missed. worth the listen. I knew nothing before... but have a better understanding now.
I like how the lectures are disconnected approaching the history from different, yet simultaneous points of view. Instead of one long narrative it constantly reviews events but from the perspective of a different group or time. Helps to solidify the information through repitition without feeling repetitious.
It is interesting series of stories from history but the lectures lack depth or critical analysis of the events or the people behind them. I would recommend for anybody who is looking to get started on middle east history.
This is a good introduction of the Middle East history. Each episode can be a book or more by itself. Author summaries the main points not all points.
I would recommend it.
Despite some small mistakes here and there, the content is informative, objective, and well narrated.
I particularly like the link the author has made between history and the construct of future.
The Lecturer obviously loves his topic and is thoroughly versed in it. His personal passion as well as professional passion come through in every word.
I will listen to this more than once. The sheer volume of information merits multiple listens.
Five stars all around. What I appreciate most in Professor Gearon is always in the background he remembers history is a human story, complicated and beautified by human nature. In addition, his delivery is not strictly chronological, which provides a modicum of overlap and review of key concepts. My favorite persons from the course are Shajar al-Durr - Mamluk sultana and first woman Islamic monarch, and the fascinating story of Tariq ibn Ziyad - a non-Muslim, non-Arab, Berber slave granted generalship in the Islamic army of his captors, who went on to infiltrate the Iberian peninsula, thus starting the Arabization of Spain. Let your guard down my fellow Americans, and experience the Middle East from times past, when our histories converge and coalesce to points indistinguishable from one another.
"Interesting and insightful overview of history"
Very long but mostly interesting. Reveals how partial history is in terms of class, gender and race to me though these things are in sufficiently covered. It also shows how little we know of the past and how packaged our historical knowledge is with stereotypes - so some gaps filled. This audible book goes a little way to challenge conventional history but ultimately not far enough for me. Hence holding back from 5 stars.
"A kind history"
Yes, it gave a good overview of a long and complicated history.
However in places it was selective in detail which seemed to fit a agenda. A few examples.
Mohammed & the Battle of Badr/Trench/expulsions of Xtians/Expansion throughout Saud - the narration & depiction of these events is all very kind. It doesn't really go into the graphicness of what were essentially militaristic, brutal, ideologically driven conquests. Instead the narrator favourably looks upon the character as being 'sincere' in his 'convictions'. Rather than ever possibly raising the notion or even suggestion that the character MIGHT have been a bit flawed its brushed over.
University founded by Fatima al-Fihri in Fes - This is an interesting example. The author holds this up as a 'this might suprise you about how progressive early Islam was'-moment and on the surface at least this seems completely justified. However I looked into the university in question and it seems that from its inception up until now no women have been permitted to attend the university due to Islamic doctrine. Obviously this point did not fit the narrative.
The selective telling of these stories unfortunately coloured the rest of the audiobook for me. Rather than being able to trust the authors neutrality I was more skeptical throughout the remainder.
This kind of narrative continued throughout the story of the Ottomans. A general comment would be that military battles & the slaughter of rival tribes/states are told as 'tribe X expanded into Y' as though this is something organic and painless. History is quite brutal and I understand it doesnt fit a peaceful narrative but its dishonest to leave out the scale of barbarism.
Final comment would be that post the year 1400-ish the story departs Arabia until the oil-discoveries of 1900s. It's quite a big gap so I will look for further material on what happened during this time.
An incredibly honest and thorough account of 1400 years of history. As a person who thinks he knows a lot about the history of the middle east i thought it might not be so interesting but I soon realised how limited my knowledge was. I really recommend people to look into this series.
And although the style of the lecturer is sometimes a bit stilted, I came to appreciate his clear and focused narrative. Overall, this was a well spent 18 odd hours.
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