The Middle East is the birthplace of ancient civilizations, but most of the modern states that occupy its territory today are of recent origin, as are many key concepts of communal and individual identity and loyalty that the peoples of the region now confront. In The Multiple Identities of the Middle East, eminent Middle East historian Bernard Lewis elucidates the critical role of identity in the domestic, regional, and international tensions and conflicts of the Middle East today.
Examining religion, race and language, country, nation, and state, Lewis traces the rapid evolution of the identities of the Middle Eastern peoples, from the collapse of the centuries-old Ottoman Empire in 1918 to today’s clash of old and new allegiances. He shows how, during the twentieth century, imported Western ideas such as liberalism, fascism, socialism, patriotism, and nationalism have transformed Middle Easterners’ ancient notions of community, their self-perceptions, and their aspirations.
To this fascinating historical portrait, Lewis brings an understanding of the region and its peoples, as well as a profound sympathy for the plight that the modern world has imposed on them. The result is an invaluable tool in our understanding of an area that is of increasing global importance and concern today.
Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University and is the author of The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; The Emergence of Modern… More about Bernard Lewis
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"[Lewis] remains the master of the Middle East universe. He has never been more vital to understanding the Arab mind." –Leslie H. Gelb, president, Council on Foreign Relations
"This is a book that honors the great diversity of the Middle East, that weaves a seamless web between historical traditions and today’s dilemmas. Lewis is a great historian at the peak of his power and craft and literary grace, a writer with a beguiling eye for the historical realities that underpin the modern struggles of the Middle East. –Faruad Ajami, author of The Dream Palace of the Arabs
"At a time when the phrase ‘identity politics’ has been trivialized, Lewis shows us how to think seriously about these concepts. As with everything he has written, this book brilliantly illuminates the modern Middle East." –Fareed Zakaria, managing editor, Foreign Affairs
"Nothing short of a tour d’horizon of Middle Eastern identities, from antiquity to the contemporary era, by the foremost living historian of the region." —The Sunday Telegraph (London)