Suggested Readings

These are books I consider the best for serving as an introduction to Middle East history for those with little background knowledge and also for their scholarly polish. Some of the books are highly entertaining and others are a bit dry, but they are worth the read for anyone who wants to become well-informed on this part of the world. I have ranked the books from the most ancient time period to the most recent.


1) Daniel Snell. Life in the Ancient Near East, 3100-332 B.C.E. (Yale University Press, 1998)

2) Simon Baker. Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (BBC Books, 2007)

3) Martin Lings. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (Inner Traditions, 2006)

4) Fred Donner. Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam (Belknap Press, 2012)

5) Michael Sells. Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations (White Cloud Press, 2007)

6) Hugh Kennedy. When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam’s Greatest Dynasty (Da Capo Press, 2006)

7) Thomas Madden. The New Concise History of the Crusades (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005)

8) Richard Fletcher. Moorish Spain (University of California Press, 2006)

9) Jack Weatherford. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Broadway, 2005)

10) Thomas Friedman. From Beirut to Jerusalem (Picador, revised and updated; 2012)