Titles in this series, "Creation of the Modern Middle East", which also discusses the Palestinian Authority, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Oman, the Kurds, Israel, and Iraq, generally explore modern history from the European colonialists' divisions of Mideast nations along lines of economic gain to post-September 11 instability. Professor Akbar Ahmed suggests in his introduction to each book that the series will challenge stereotypes of the Mideast as anarchic, undemocratic, and homogeneous. The individual series entries, however, do not always accomplish this goal. It is also unclear as to why certain countries were left out, such as Lebanon, which is an interesting example of attempting proportional governance in an extremely ethnically and religiously diverse nation. The volumes pertaining to Syria and Yemen, specifically addressed in this review, are quite different in quality and presentation. In Syria, too much emphasis is placed on nefarious regional conflicts between Syria and its neighbors, most prominently Israel. Little of Syria's rich cultural history or current sociopolitical events are evident here, except for a few photos of the Armenian cultural minority. In Yemen, Weber describes both international and national influences on Yemen, presenting a cohesive overview of recent Yemeni political history. Early Western oil exploration and Saudi desires for physical expansion are explored alongside uniquely Yemeni issues, such as tribal alliances, qat consumption, and Imam lineage. In both titles, women's contributions to modern political establishments are ignored, although they participate in parliament, base support, and leadership. The series is uneven, probablybecause of the use of eight authors with varying experience covering Mideast politics. Morrison is described as a "Philadephia newspaperman," whereas Weber is a professor, and neither approaches his or her subject authoritatively. Nevertheless, the series should be useful for students seeking country-specific modern political history and is unique for including the Palestinian Authority. Middle school and large public libraries will find the series functional. Index. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Further Reading. Chronology. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Chelsea House, 123p. PLB
Lora Morgaine Shinn
Most Americans had probably never heard of Yemen, to say nothing of placing it on a map, until the USS Cole was attacked in a Yemeni harbor in 2000. That in itself is a good reason for young Americans to begin knowing about this country that borders Saudi Arabia and is home to a strategic refueling depot for the American military. The American presence in Yemen is not popular with Islamic extremists, but like so many countries of the Middle East, Yemen has a long frustrated history of foreign rule and betrayal. North and South Yemen � created by the British in a post-World War I decision � were not peacefully reunited until the mid 1990s. As a result, while "Yemen's fame in the ancient world came from frankincense and coffee, today it comes from guns and terrorists." By 1986, it had the lowest per capita income in the Middle East and a full quarter of the gross domestic product came from a million Yemenis living and working abroad. Oil was discovered and harnessed in the late 1980s. A few modern pictures are scattered through the heavy text; there is a chronology and additional resources as well as an index. The index, however, includes proper names but not a key word like "oil". The series is adequate for research but it is not a friendly read-through for young readers. An excellent introduction by Akbar Ahmed, School of International Service, American University, explains the background behind many of the social and political realities in the Middle East today: the lack of democracy, the need for education reform, opinions of the media, and the distinction between feelings toward Jews and Israelis. This series features titles on other individual Middle Eastern countries as well asindividual books on the Palestinian Authority and the Kurds, another proud people also split across two countries at the end of World War I. Part of the "Creation of the Modern Middle East" series. 2003, Chelsea,
Gr 8 Up-The 20th-century political histories of Iraq and Yemen are given detailed, reliable coverage here. Both titles open with brief historical introductions. The major focus in Iraq, however, is on the period after World War I to the present, with much information on Saddam Hussein. Weber examines both North and South Yemen, and the period since unification in 1990 receives comprehensive treatment. Photographs, mainly in sepia tones, are scattered throughout each book; a gallery of archival images at the end of Iraq seems to be mainly filler. The map in each volume is poor-difficult to read, omitting many places mentioned in the texts, or using different spellings. In Yemen, the al-Qaeda network is said to be made up mainly of "militant Islams," presumably meaning "militant Muslims." Virtually everything in the "Further Reading" sections is duplicated in the "Bibliography," and several of the Web sites offer nothing. Still, for good, clearly presented report material, these are serviceable selections.-Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.