The Hand­book of the Mid­dle East, rev. ed.

Michael B. Kort
  • Review
By – December 16, 2011

Although the brief intro­duc­tion and his­tor­i­cal overview are the same as in the 2002 book, a large two-page phys­i­cal map of the Mid­dle East is a wel­come addi­tion to this revised edi­tion. The author dis­cuss­es the fol­low­ing areas: North Africa (Egypt and Libya), Israel, the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty, and Jor­dan, Lebanon, Syr­ia and Iraq, The North­ern Tier (Turkey and Iran), and last, The Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la, con­sist­ing of Sau­di Ara­bia, Kuwait, the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain, Qatar, and Yemen. As in the 2002 edi­tion, each sec­tion cov­ers the geog­ra­phy, econ­o­my, and peo­ple of the region. There are updat­ed pop­u­la­tion sta­tis­tics, and maps (all in shades of aqua, white and black) for each region. Recent events are dis­cussed in the text, along with polit­i­cal beliefs of each area. Unlike the old­er edi­tion, no flags are includ­ed. The text is clear and very read­able, so that mid­dle school and high school stu­dents, as well as adults, will begin to under­stand the back­ground of this volatile hot spot.” 

In the ency­clo­pe­dia sec­tion, the bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion on lead­ers, geo­graph­ic areas, and groups has been updat­ed, and includes black-and-white pho­tos of the fea­tured peo­ple. A chronol­o­gy ends in 2007 with the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion tight­en­ing eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Iran for its refusal to stop its pro­gram to build nuclear weapons. Also append­ed are a select­ed bib­li­og­ra­phy, source notes, a list of sug­ges­tions for fur­ther read­ing, and an exten­sive index. There are three web­sites: the CIA’s offi­cial web­site, the U.S. State Department’s web­site with their annu­al Inter­na­tion­al Reli­gious Free­dom Report,” and Free­dom House’s site with its free­dom in the world rank­ings and such infor­ma­tion as a report on free­dom of the press in coun­tries around the world. Rec­om­mend­ed for grades 7 – 12 despite the hefty price. There is a dis­count if schools and libraries order direct­ly from the publisher.

Andrea David­son is the librar­i­an of The Tem­ple-Tifer­eth Israel in Beach­wood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and is a for­mer mem­ber of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards Com­mit­tee. She enjoys try­ing out the books she reviews on the kids at the Tem­ple and on her grandchildren.

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