2000 years in 387 pages - A great effort but somewhat unsatisfying.
Don't get me wrong - I am came to this book as a true fan of Bernard Lewis. His book The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror was one of the more thought-provoking books I read last year. However, this book is quite different than 'Crisis'. It's scope is massive, and it is a history book rather than a work of examination and informed conjecture.
Lewis addresses these shortcomings in his introduction and admits that it will be a difficult undertaking to do it well. He acknowledges that whatever format he chooses to cover this history, it will be unsatisfying for some. I give him credit for doing it well, but not as great as the other books and articles of his that I've read.
The second section is called 'Cross sections' and it deals with specific topics throughout the 2,000 years of history, such as the military or agriculture. I give this section 4 stars.
The last section goes into the struggles the Middle East has experienced since Europe and the West have become such a vital part of the world since the European Renaissance. This is Lewis' strongest area and by far the most interesting to read. I give this section 5 stars.
So, the average of the 3 sections is 4 stars - my final score for this book.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years
Reviewed on August 2, 2005.