I am in the process of listening to an audio book version of Arthur Goldschmidt Jr.’s A Concise History of the Middle East [9th edition]. I won’t get it finished as I borrowed it online from the Hamilton Public Library and I am not half way through yet. But.. I found the 7th edition available as an eBook through the University of Guelph library – so I will either read the remainder, or borrow the audio version again later.
It is a good introduction to the history of Islam in the Middle East – and not as the title suggests, a history of the Middle East. Generally it is excellent in terms of understanding Islam as it developed [though a bit too much towards political, rather than social or cultural history for my taste]. The book suffers from the usual flaw in books by Americans on Islam – that is, a lot of time is spent making erroneous or just plain wrong comments about Christianity, or western Christian civilisation in comparison to that of Islam in the Middle East. But, these flaws are few and far between. For fun [!!!] I tried reading the Complete Idiots Guide to Understanding Islam – a dreadful book – the entire first section filled with errors of fact and misunderstandings of Christianity – which seems to be the whole thrust – very little talk about Islam until well into the book – mostly just half understood nonsense about Christianity and ‘ra ra’ cheering about the superiority of Islam. As they say these days on the net… ‘meh‘