The Middle East is a critically important area of our world. And, with its current prominence in international affairs, media images of the Middle East reach us on a daily basis. Much media coverage, however, is incomplete at best, failing to take account of either the complexities or the historical background of this pivotal region. For most of us, the real story of the Middle East remains untold. What made this crucial geopolitical area what it is today? In coming to terms with the present and future of the Middle East, an understanding of its history is not only highly valuable but essential.
Now, the 36 lectures of Turning Points in Middle Eastern History unfurl a breathtaking panorama of history, exploring a 1,300-year window from the rise of the warrior prophet Muhammad to the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Each lecture focuses on a specific moment that changed the direction of events or the narrative of history.
You'll witness the Battle of Karbala, where Muhammad's heirs - the Sunni and Shia - split once and for all. You'll discover the wonders of the Islamic Golden Age and marvel at the superlative advances in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and literature - and the preservation of classical Greek and Roman wisdom - that unfolded in global centers of learning such as Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba. You'll follow the empire building of the Persian Safavids, the Egyptian Mamluks, and the Ottomans, among others.
The breakup of the Ottoman Empire yielded most of the modern states of the Middle East. The far-reaching impacts of its rise and fall, plus the long-lasting influence of the 18th-century Saud-Wahhab Pact between a desert ruler and a religious reformer, creating today's Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are two more expressions of how the past suffuses the present. The stories you'll discover here are as dazzling as anything in the Arabian Nights and are all the more astonishing for being true.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By B. S. Mahtani on 14-08-16

Interesting and insightful overview of history

Very long but mostly interesting. Reveals how partial history is in terms of class, gender and race to me though these things are in sufficiently covered. It also shows how little we know of the past and how packaged our historical knowledge is with stereotypes - so some gaps filled. This audible book goes a little way to challenge conventional history but ultimately not far enough for me. Hence holding back from 5 stars.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By David Jackson on 22-06-16


An incredibly honest and thorough account of 1400 years of history. As a person who thinks he knows a lot about the history of the middle east i thought it might not be so interesting but I soon realised how limited my knowledge was. I really recommend people to look into this series.

And although the style of the lecturer is sometimes a bit stilted, I came to appreciate his clear and focused narrative. Overall, this was a well spent 18 odd hours.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By L. Ritchie on 24-03-16

Closest thing the GC has to a study of Ottomans

Is this worth it? Yes, if you can deal with the arbitrary choices made! ( I certainly can!)

These lectures tread common ground with other great courses up to the rise of the Mamelukes. Then, as a combined Ottoman-Sarafid- Mameluke history, it truly comes to life. Arbitrary, of course, as is the nature of these event compilations (Oman and Libya tend to be wheeled out in passing to make room for more Egypt and Moorish Spain), a clearer idea of what these lectures are about really shines through once we reach the Crusades. The Orient-Occident confrontation as a clash of cultures and how much of this is really baloney! A good overall regional grounding to be listened to on Audible in tandem with (in my humble opinion) Rogan's "fall of the Ottomans" and Anderson's "Lawrence of Arabia". Until a specific series of Great Courses cover the Ottoman Empire (or Mameluke Egypt for that matter), this is the next best thing! I do feel the addition of an Oman-Zanzibar chapter may have added to this but the chap cannot put everything down...

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32 of 35 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Daniel M. on 15-09-17

As an Israeli, I knew so little about my region.

Would you listen to Turning Points in Middle Eastern History again? Why?

Sure! I'm an Israeli (of Jewish origin), and quit informed and learned (I'm have a PhD), and love learning history. Moreover, I'm a humanist, and do not hate or shun people that are different from me. However, I knew almost nothing of what was taught in the course. In Israel, in the education system, you hardly learn anything about the middle-east in the 1800 years between the end of the Jewish state and Jewish population in the 1-2 centuries AD, and 19 century. Also, in the western TV channels as Discovery, the History Channel, National Geographic etc- there are hardly any programs on the subject. This course is a must for all Israelis and western civilization. To acknowledge that most Arab and Muslim key figures (at least the ones in this course) were much more humanistic and trustworthy than most Christian and Jew key figures in History before the 19th century. People need to appreciate the huge contribution of Arabs and Muslims to the western civilization. Maybe this could reduce the Muslim and Arab phobia today.

What did you like best about this story?

To find out that the first university was founded in Morocco, by a woman!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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