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Turning Points in Middle Eastern History Lecture

Turning Points in Middle Eastern History

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Mr. Rich Clarke Atlanta, GA 04-24-16
    Mr. Rich Clarke Atlanta, GA 04-24-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very thorough and informative."

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Ritchie 03-24-16
    L. Ritchie 03-24-16 Member Since 2015

    History buff and amateur accountant. Secret passion - hacker stories

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    "Closest thing the GC has to a study of Ottomans"

    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...



    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DesiBOOKworm USA 09-04-16
    DesiBOOKworm USA 09-04-16 Member Since 2016

    Desi

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    "Biased, but still informative"
    Where does Turning Points in Middle Eastern History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Prof.Gearon is knowledgeable, and as an introductory series I highly recommend this talk. He will give you a better appreciation of some of the glories of middle-eastern civilization, primarily Islamic; but he avoids or sugar coats the extremely sanguinary aspects of islamic history. This is a common problem with liberal academics. Just 2 examples. In his description of Andalus or of the Muqqadima he completely avoids the issue of religious intolerance and oppression of minorities and the Islamic chauvinism that were a fact of life of both. But Ibn Khaldun is a world-class mind, so it is still important to be introduced to him.


    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jeanne c. 03-22-16
    jeanne c. 03-22-16 Member Since 2014
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    "a lot of explaining about the middle East"

    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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Rodger 03-22-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth every second and every cent"

    I absolutely loved this audiobook/class.

    Dr. Gearon is masterful in his presentation of middle eastern history. I will listen to this again sometime!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 04-09-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good coverage of ME 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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean O. 03-23-16
    Sean O. 03-23-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Eloquent and Thorough"

    The speaker is eloquent and well informed. Much enjoyed! I will look for his other works.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Cupertino, CA, United States 07-09-16
    Mark Cupertino, CA, United States 07-09-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Awesome history, a bit too rose colored re: Islam over Christianity"

    I have studied the Middle East in the Roman and Byzantine periods but not Islamic history proper before this course. Gearon's course admirably covers 1300 years of Islamic history. His story telling and connecting history to how life is now is amazing. He comes across a bit too much as a partisan for Muslim culture over and against Christian and Jewish culture. He "scores points" in multiple lectures with how the Christians were, in his view, more barbaric than Muslim rulers. It seems a bit forced and at times conceals the brutality that was part of the medieval Muslim world as it was of all societies. Better to tell it straight and not show us the pretty artwork and sweep the bodies behind the lovely curtains

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 04-09-16
    David 04-09-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting but lacks depth"

    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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clark Gaylord Blacksburg, VA 11-01-16
    Clark Gaylord Blacksburg, VA 11-01-16 Member Since 2011

    ckg

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    "Informative"

    This is an informative book, describing the world of the Midst East. I particularly liked learning about the different Islamic empires.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • B. S. Mahtani
    8/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    7/27/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A kind history"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • David Jackson
    6/22/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Unputdownable"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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