The History of the Middle East Conflict: Maps & Documents Please!

When it comes to the thousands of books and millions of articles on the so-called “Arab-Israeli” conflict–and I know I have read at least fifty of the main ones over the years–I recommend two things: Maps and Documents.

As the best single course for understanding the minute details of what has gone on in the Holy Land since the 1800s I recommend first and foremost, Martin Gilbert, The Routledge ATLAS of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 10th edition (London & New York: 2012). Paperback, Harcover, or Kindle. I have the paperback and the Kindle, as the latter allows you to do screen shots of the maps. It is a bit expensive, but worth its weight in gold, as the saying goes, and one could study the maps and data endlessly, in following current events or delving into past history. It is ESSENTIAL for any approach to the History of the Middle East. You have to know the maps!


And then there are the Documents. I recommend Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict 10th edition(Boston & New York, 2021). Paperback, Hardcover, e-Textbook. Again, somewhat expensive, but well worth the price. Reading the documents with the maps will put you ahead of almost any single treatment or discussion of the “Middle East,” and it will also put you in a position to evaluate what you read and hear all the time via the media with some degree of knowledgable comprehension. As difficult as things are to sort out, with even the outright lies and biased presentations on all sides, looking at the actual documents puts one leagues ahead of any kind of futile “back and forth” dispute, as is so often the case.

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