Religion, regimes and revolution: Discovering the Middle East

From Egypt and Dubai to Yemen and Palestine, Yale’s extensive range of newly-published books on the Middle East vividly describe its turbulent history, illustrating the cultural, economic and political issues that continue to confront the region today.

Anti-riot police facing protestors near a Cairo court where pro-reform judges were being questioned by a disciplinary tribunal, in May 2006.

At a time when demonstrators crowd the streets in cities across Egypt, the international community has been forced to scrutinise both President Mubarak’s regime, and those who seek to bring it to an end. Western leaders in Europe and across the Atlantic are having to decide whether or not to support the uprising or remain loyal to a regime they have been tacitly or actively supporting for decades.

This dilemma is another chapter in the ongoing saga of the West’s turbulent relationship with the Middle East. From the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, the West has played an active role in trying to shape and influence the region. The myopic redrawing of territories by the British and French in the wake of the war, coupled with the West’s tendency to play an active role in supporting Western-friendly leaders has led to decades of oppressive regimes, violent uprisings, contested wars and sectarian conflict.

However, as the following list of newly-published Yale books illustrates, the future may be brighter, provided that world leaders can learn the lessons of history:

Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak
by Tarek Osman

Famous until the 1950s for its religious pluralism and cultural heritage, Egypt is now seen as an increasingly repressive and divided land, home of the Muslim Brotherhood and an opaque regime headed by the aging President Mubarak. This book explores what has happened to Egypt since President Nasser took control of the country in 1954.

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Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes
by Victoria Clark

Yemen is the dark horse of the Middle East. Untangling Yemen’s history before examining the country’s role in both al-Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement, Victoria Clark presents an account of a little-known state whose chronic instability is increasingly engaging the general reader.

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Dubai: Gilded Cage
by Syed Ali

In less than two decades, Dubai has transformed itself from an obscure Gulf emirate into a global centre for business, tourism and luxury living. It is a case study in light-speed urban development, hyperconsumerism, massive immigration and vertiginous inequality. Dubai: Gilded Cage analyses how and at what cost Dubai has achieved such success.

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Palestine Betrayed – AVAILABLE MARCH 2011
by Efraim Karsh

The 1947 UN resolution to partition Palestine irrevocably changed the political landscape of the Middle East, giving rise to six full-fledged wars between Arabs and Jews, countless armed clashes, blockades and terrorism. Palestine Betrayed tells the story from both the Arab and Jewish perspectives.

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In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands
by Martin Gilbert

Relationships between Jews and Muslims have known many flashpoints, affecting stability in the Middle East and with consequences around the globe. This book challenges the standard media portrayal, presenting an account of hope, opportunity, fear and terror that have characterised these two people in the 1,400 years of their entwined history.

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The Forgotten Palestinians – AVAILABLE MAY 2011
by Ilan Pappé

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have lived as Israeli citizens within the borders of the nation formed after the 1948 conflict. This book examines how Israeli Palestinians have fared under Jewish rule and what their lives tell us about Israel’s attitude toward minorities and Palestinians’ attitudes toward the Jewish state.

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