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Most Helpful Favorable Review
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
Shows the deep Jewish connection to the Land of Israel
posted by Anonymous on October 15, 2001Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
If you're looking for pro-Israel material ...
I wanted reading material that was easy to comprehend and, most important, was unbiased. I haven't been educated much about the Middle East and was looking for an overview of the history of the region. I had only gotten through a lit...
I wanted reading material that was easy to comprehend and, most important, was unbiased. I haven't been educated much about the Middle East and was looking for an overview of the history of the region. I had only gotten through a little over 50 pages of the book before I had a nagging feeling that the author wasn't being totally fair. I had only to Google "Mitchell G. Bard" to find that he is the director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and the Jewish Virtual Library. I visited the JVL and found several pages authored by Bard to be extremely troubling. He seems to enjoy focusing on the anti-Semitism of Arab states; the way in which he documents slurs and threats against Israel is disturbing. While Bard certainly has the right to express an opinion, I would much rather that he stick to the facts when writing material that is inevitably going to end up in the hands of a reader who knows very little about the Middle East.
While the writing is simple and easy to comprehend, this is perhaps the only strength of the book (besides the bibliography, where, I assume, one who is interested in this region can find truly unbiased literature). I'm extremely disappointed in the franchise for choosing this author.
If you're like me and want to find reading material about the Middle East that is not completely one-sided, I've included some books that NPR has recommended.
posted by Rachel28RW on June 28, 2009Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2003
Truly for Idiots: One-Sided Guide of the Middle East
While quite knowledgeable about the Middle East myself, I thought this book looked quite interesting and worth reading. I particularly enjoyed reading the similar book ¿Arabs and Israel for Beginners, ¿ by Ron David, which I really found to be informative and entertaining at the same time and made 6 stars on my own list. Unfortunately, ¿The Complete Idiot¿s Guide to the Middle East¿ was a total disappointment. Though fascinating on the surface, the book suffers major problems having to do with its credibility and its fairness. First, not all the relevant facts are presented. Certain things are covered in great detail while other equally important facts are glossed over, or neglected completely. I understand that not everything can be covered in such an introductory guide, but this book does a terrible job presenting a balanced perspective. The Arab perspective is almost totally absent from this book. For example, it emphasizes Jewish suffering in Europe in the 1920s through 1940s while ignoring or minimizing the dispossession of Palestinians and loss of their land as a result of Jewish immigration. The book also extols Israel¿s ¿Law of Return¿ for allowing Jews anywhere in the world a safe-haven, but neglects to even mention that the same law forbids millions of Palestinians who were actually born on the land from returning to their homes. Likewise, the entire book is written from the point of view of Israel. Second, the title is somehow misleading. The Middle East in my mind evokes many things: the Holy Land, Islam, Arabs, Iranians, etc. If we concern ourselves with ancient history as well, as this book does, then we have a vastly broad topic that includes many things. Reading this book, however, one senses little concern for this broad coverage and focus instead on a single narrow thread connecting all these topics: Jewish history. Thus the book discusses Egypt as a prelude to the story of the Israelites and Moses. Mesopotamia is alluded to only as a prelude to the Babylonian exile. Islam is even presented mostly from the perspective of 7th century Islamic-Judaic relationships. Coming to the modern age, the centrality of Israel and the Zionist movement to this book is never far off. Many pages are spent on the Nazi Holocaust ¿ something which never took place in the Middle East and actually has nothing to do with the Middle East. While it is of course OK to write a book on Jewish history, to call it a primer on the Middle East is misleading to readers. Understanding the conflict requires a balanced perspective, and also requires a better understanding of Islam and the Arabs since they make up the majority of that region. This book fails to deliver that. Perhaps the affiliation of Mitchell Bard with AICE (basically an Israeli PR firm) can explain the unbalanced perspective of this book?
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Posted September 17, 2002
Just look at the names of the authors and the editorial consultant: Mitchell Bard & Daniel Pipes. ANYONE who has read ANYTHING on the Mideast is familiar with these names and their intense pro-Israeli views. It is truly sad that this book could be foisted on the unsuspecting reader as an introductory text. Shame on you, publisher!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.