Kort begins his excellent new book by reminding readers that "No part of the world is more central to the story of human civilization than the Middle East." The book is divided into two main sections. Following an overall description of the area, Kort presents individual chapters that feature small groups of adjoining countries. For example, one chapter features Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Each chapter examines the geography, history, resources, people, and culture of the countries. The writing is clear, concise, lively, and full of fascinating details that will motivate readers to do more than just browse for facts. Several well-chosen color photographs of excellent quality illustrate the chapters. A picture of Iranian girls clad in black burkas standing on a sandy beach is a dramatic example of a culture so different from that of the West. The second section features two large maps, one political and one geographic; a section of color pictures of the countries' flags; a time line of events; and a brief alphabetic encyclopedia that highlights major cities, terms, and biographical sketches of country leaders. This outstanding and timely resource should be purchased for all middle and high school libraries and public library collections. Kort's book will be of great value to students trying to understand the history, tensions, and issues of this important but volatile region. Glossary. Index. Photos. Maps. Source Notes. Chronology. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Twenty-First Century, 304p. PLB
Gr 7 Up-Similar in format to the author's The Handbook of the New Eastern Europe (21st Century, 2001) and The Handbook of the Former Soviet Union (Millbrook, 1997), this is a readable, informative introduction to the history and current political state of 16 countries that comprise this book's definition of the Middle East: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, plus the Palestinian Authority's territory. The first chapter presents an overview of the region's importance as the cradle of civilization; a crossroad between Europe, Asia, and Africa; the birthplace of monotheism; and the location of the world's richest oil deposits. In five subsequent chapters, the countries are grouped by region. The author includes history, geography, culture, and current government and politics. The book also has a chapter of maps and flags; a chronology of events from ancient times to 2001; and an "encyclopedia" of important people, places, and such topics as Islamic fundamentalism and Arab-Israeli conflict. This section has black-and-white photos, mainly portraits. Full-color photos are scattered throughout the volume. This current, balanced work is a fine resource for students and general readers who want to increase their knowledge of the region.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.