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The Middle East: A History", by Sydney Nettleton Fisher

A review of "The Middle East: A History", by Sydney Nettleton Fisher (2nd Edition, 1968), xiv, 640. Review by Dr. Paul-Thomas Ferguson. In this review, Dr. Ferguson summarizes the book's content and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the author's arguments.

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The historiography of the Middle East contains several works which purport to be comprehensive guides to the complete history of the region. Usually, these texts fall short of such claims. After all, creating a comprehensive, concise, inclusive, and brief history of any subject is difficult, particularly since "comprehensive" and "brief" seem to be mutually exclusive terms. Nonetheless, Sydney Nettleton Fisher, with his updated and expanded second edition of 1959's "The Middle East: A History", presents a comprehensive look at the region, from the time of Muhammad to the present.

In the author's opinion, "many of the present situations and problems cannot be appreciated or evaluated properly without a knowledge and comprehension of the past" (v). For this reason, Fisher begins his work with the birth of Muhammad then proceeds through history, changing the geographic focus of the work "from Medina to Damascus to Baghdad to Asia Minor to Istanbul and back to the Arab lands as the fortunes of the area have developed" (vi). What results is a decidedly comprehensive history. Two opening chapters serve to provide background ...

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This book is summarized thoroughly.