At the writing of this review, the Israeli-Hezbollah cease-fire is still in place, but who knows if it will hold or not. This conflict, the war in Iraq, and the war on terror have long roots in history. This four-volume set can be an aid in figuring out the background of what is going on in the Middle East - not only in Iraq and Israel, but also in other places in that region.
The main emphasis of this set is the Israeli-Arab conflict that had been going on for years even before Israel became a nation in 1948. Many things have changed in the Middle East since this set was published in late 2005; in early 2006, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke, becoming incapacitated and near death at this writing. His successor is Ehud Olmert, and there is a new government in Iraq. But this set is still worthwhile since its purpose is history, not current events. The history explains in part why things are as they are in today’s Middle East and comes from reputable reference resource Thomson Gale.
This four-volume set includes an almanac, biographies, primary sources, and a cumulative index. Many maps and black and white illustrations are featured throughout. The three larger volumes each contain a timeline running from 970 to 2005 and a glossary of short definitions. The almanac volume has a section on country facts, covering Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, followed by several chapters outlining these countries’ histories. The chapters conclude with bibliographical references, including at least one web site. At the end of the volume, there is a larger bibliography and an index.
The biography volume covers twenty-six people, most of whom are men; only two women are represented. These persons of note are Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat, Hanan Ashrawi, Hafez Assad, Mustafa Ataturk, Menachem Begin, David Ben-Gurion, Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Darwish, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Pierre Gemayel, Theodor Herzl, Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, King Hussein I, Saddam Hussein, Meir Kahane, Ayatollah Khomeini, Golda Meir, Hosni Mubarak, Gamal Nasser, Abu Nidal, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar Sadat, Herbert Samuel, and Ariel Sharon. Most are politicians of one sort or another; some are terrorists. There are bibliographical references at the end of each biography, and the volume ends with a bibliography and an index.
The primary sources volume starts with some documents from the 1930s up to the twenty-first century. Mostly this volume contains excerpts from these documents or speeches. The primary sources are grouped according to time periods and subjects. Each primary source begins with its own introduction, then some excerpts are given as well as a discussion of what transpired afterward. A few discussion questions are presented. A bibliography is also given, and this volume, too, ends with an index.
The last volume is a thin cumulative index for the set.
Tom and Sara Pandergast have authored and co-authored several books and sets. They authored Contemporary Black Biography (2006), co-authored Understanding Film Genre (2006), The Sixties in America (2004), Fashion, Costume, and Culture (2002), U-X-L American Decade series (2002), authored Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies (2002), World War I Reference Library (2001), and many other books.
This Middle East Conflict Reference Library set is recommended to those who would like to know more about the background of the Middle East conflicts affecting our lives today.