Understanding the Middle East (2007 text)

In 2007 I published my first major nonfiction work, Understanding the Middle East: History, Religion, and the Clash of Cultures.

I began the project in 2006, and I took about a year to complete it. My aim in writing the book was to provide the layperson with a broad understanding of the history of this region.

The book met with general approval from readers (on Amazon and Goodreads) and a nice review from The Catholic World Report.

Understanding the Middle East: History, Religion, and the Clash of Cultures by Edward Trimnell. Demonstrating similar reasonableness is Edward Trimnell, whose book on the Middle East, though five years old, remains an outstanding guide to an enormously complex region. Trimnell primarily wants to convey information, but he also interweaves clearheaded analysis to help the reader assess the aspirations of Middle Eastern countries and reevaluate the fears they provoke in the West. He soft pedals neither totalitarianism nor terrorism nor does he gloss over the broad range of political, religious, and social ideas that make it impossible to homogenize the region. The book covers antiquity to the modern day but is particularly incisive in its treatment of the latter twentieth-century. Trimnell oscillates between ideas and historical events, comparing and contrasting Christian otherworldliness, the Enlightenment’s version of Church/state separation, and the “complete system” of Islam. The reader is neither weighed down with excessive detail nor titillated by superfluous trivia. The narrative, or several narratives, that Trimnell places on the table have changed the way I read the morning paper. 

The Catholic World Report, 2013

After twelve years, some of this book is out of date. The book is no longer for sale. Nevertheless, the information provided herein is valuable enough that I don’t mind putting it out on here on the Web, even if I no longer want to charge money for it.

Oh…one more thing. What is here is not the final, proofread version of the book, but a reasonably well-edited draft. (Thank a 2010 computer crash for that.) As a result, there may be a typo or two. But the manuscript presented here is in pretty good shape, at least by Internet standards.

Introduction and Chronology of Major Events
Chapter 1: The Ancient Middle East
Chapter 2: The Birth and Rise of Islam
Chapter 3: Understanding the Crusades
Chapter 4: The Basics of Islam
Chapter 5: A Millennium of Change in the Middle East
Chapter 6: Zionism and the Modern State of Israel
Chapter 7: Iran: the Islamic Republic
Chapter 8: The Story of Saudi Arabia
Chapter 9: Iraq before Saddam Hussein
Chapter 10: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq
Chapter 11: Islamic Fundamentalism and Global Terror
Chapter 12: Beyond the Middle East: the Clash of Cultures