The first chapter reads almost like a best-selling thriller, with the protagonist�King Hussein�seeking thrills as a pilot and race car driver, and repeatedly fighting off assassination attempts, even engaging in a dogfight in midair with two Russian MiG fighter planes. It is a dramatic portrait of the King that quickly fades into long, undivided chapters that bounce back and forth through history and are not likely to engage young readers. The author does discuss Jordan's precarious position across from Israel, full of Palestinian refugees and in between the much stronger Arab states of Syria and Egypt. There is also a lot of background on the great differences and animosities among these various Arab states. There is a marvelous description of King Hussein's grandfather Abdullah by the English adventurer T.E. Lawrence, but there is no photo of the old King�only a picture of an old fort. This problem occurs repeatedly. An excellent introduction by Akbar Ahmed, School of International Service, American University, explains many of the social and political realities in the Middle East today: the lack of democracy, the need for education reform, opinions about the media, and the distinction between feelings toward Jews and Israelis. This series features numerous titles on Middle Eastern countries as well as the Palestinian Authority and the Kurds. Some volumes are stronger than others and all have too many old photos that bear no relation to the text. The series, "Creation of the Modern Middle East," will serve adequately as reference material covering the modern era until books are written with a more appealing look and feel for young people. 2003, Chelsea House,
Children's Literature - Allison Fetters
This installment of the "Creation of the Modern Middle East" series presents an insightful and informative view of the nation of Jordan. Through the account, the reader learns of the many changes Jordan has experiences over the years in an effort to maintain peace and economic stability in an otherwise hostile region of the world. We learn of the meaning of Islam and the five pillars, which serve as the foundation for its believers. We read of the reign of Hussein ibn Talal and the great strides made in the nation of Jordan under his leadership. Through such chapters as "Jordan's 9-11," "Revolt Againt the Turks," "Black September," and "Jordan's Delicate Balancing Act," we are told of the challenges, struggles, and eventual acceptance of a new and changing Jordan. The only downside of the book is the negative portrayal of the United States in its effort to maintain an allied status with Jordan. The chronology and timeline provided within the text are detailed and easy-to-understand. The bibliography provides numerous texts, scholarly journal articles, and websites for those interested in additional research. The index is thorough and detailed. The photographs positioned throughout the text provide further insight into the culture of the Jordanian people. Reviewer: Allison Fetters
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-These two titles fill a niche that has become extremely important since September 11. Each volume opens with the same introduction by Akbar Ahmed from the School of International Service at American University; it is as thought-provoking as it is informative, challenging readers to remain unbiased while learning about the country in question. The authors supply historical information on each nation as well as how that history has impacted the people, their leaders, and the country's relationships in the world and with the United States. Clearly not for browsing, these titles are most useful for reports. Both books have photos throughout and picture galleries at the end that depict historical events, the most recent being 1929. The sepia tones, as well as the quality of the printing, detract somewhat from the value of these concluding sections. Despite the rather dry writing, except for the introduction, and the poor-quality illustrations, these titles may serve libraries needing more up-to-date, unbiased information on the Middle East.-Carol Foreman, Elbert School, CO Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.