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The State of the Middle East

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The State of the Middle East. An Atlas of Conflict and Resolution. By Dan Smith. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2006. Pg. 144. Illustrations, Maps, Charts.) ISBN 10: 0-520-24868-6. ISBN 13: 978-0-520-24868-7.

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - March 16, 2007

The State of the Middle East: An Atlas of Conflict and Resolution by Dan Smith is a unique atlas that explores not only the geography but also the politics of the middle east through a series of maps, charts, and illustrations. Smith is the Secretary General of International Alert and is the former director of the International Peace Research Institute. Within the scope of this book, Smith looks at a range of topics from military spending and the Arab-Israeli wars to the Iran-Iraq War and Oil.

The text is divided into three parts,
  1. The Shaping of the Middle East
    This section provides an historic overview of the middle east and serves as a foundation from which to understand future events in the region. This section also takes a look at U.S. involvement in the region.

  2. Arenas of Conflict
    This section looks at contemporary conflicts and areas of potential conflict such as the Palestinian Intifada, the rise of Islamic extremist in Egypt, the Algerian and Lebanese Civil Wars, the Gulf Wars, and Saudi Arabia's Oil.

  3. The State of the Nations
    Mostly statistical in nature, this final section of the book deals with an overview of how the various countries in the middle east compare with each other in the spheres of politics, economics, and social issues.
Most of the topics covered in this text are enhanced by the presence of informative chronologies that present an historic overview of each topic. Most important, the maps, charts, and chronologies associated with each topic are accompanied by easy to understand narratives that explore the issues touched upon by the associated graphics.

The State of the Middle East is an informative atlas that will serve as a ready reference book in both high school and college settings, as well as in private homes and libraries. The book is concise yet detailed, and the information contained within its pages is easy to comprehend and is essential knowledge for anyone wanting to better understand the politics and history of this volatile region.

Related Reviews:

Water in the Middle East, edited by K. David Hambright, F. Jamil Ragep, and Joseph Ginat.
Cooperation and Technological Solutions in the Jordan Valley. Eighteen essays that deal with the political and social significance of water in the Middle East and its role in Middle East conflicts.

A History of The Middle East,By Peter Mansfield.
This work provides a sweeping survey of Middle Eastern history from the time of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, in 1798, until the start of the Gulf War in the 1990's.

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