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The Modern Middle East

A History

Fifth Edition

James L. Gelvin

Publication Date - 28 February 2020

ISBN: 9780190074067

440 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

The best-selling--and smartest--introduction to the history of the modern Middle East


Extensively revised and updated in this fifth edition, The Modern Middle East explores how the forces associated with global modernity have shaped the social, economic, cultural, and political life in the region over the course of the past 500 years.

Beginning with the first glimmerings of the current international state and economic systems in the sixteenth century, this book examines the impact of imperial and imperialist legacies, the great nineteenth-century transformation, cultural continuities and upheavals, international diplomacy, economic booms and busts, and the emergence of authoritarian regimes and the varied forms of resistance to them and to imperialism in an area of vital concern to us all.

The text is engagingly written--drawing from the author's own research and other studies--and enriched with maps and photographs, original documents, and an abundance of supplementary materials.

New to this Edition

  • Revisions to every chapter, including extensive changes to Chapters 13 and 16-18
  • An entirely new conclusion, which includes two new maps: "The Shrinking ISIS Caliphate" and "Saudi-Iranian Competition"
  • Two new Vignettes: "Drawing Boundaries (I)" in Chapter 11 and "The Land Where the Sun Sets" in the Conclusion
  • Revisions and updates to the Timeline, the Glossary, and the Suggested Readings sections
  • A Companion Website at www.oup.com/he/gelvin5e offers chapter study quizzes, flashcards, and interactive timelines and maps for students. For instructors it provides a testbank and PowerPoint slides.


  • Offers an underlying argument that the eighteenth century marked a new phase in the evolution of world history that would redefine the Middle East forever
  • Instead of presenting students with a recital of dates and facts, Gelvin lets them in on the debate that has driven the dramatic developments of the Middle East since 1750
  • Gelvin's humorous and conversational writing style is comprehensive, lucid, and nuanced
  • Includes fifteen vignettes, thirty documents, and thirteen maps
  • A Companion Website at www.oup.com/he/gelvin5e offers chapter study quizzes, flashcards, and interactive timelines and maps for students and a Test Bank and PowerPoint slides for instructors

About the Author(s)

James L. Gelvin is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. An award-winning teacher, he is the author of The New Middle East: What Everyone Needs to Know (2017), The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (2015), The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (2014), Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire (1999), and numerous shorter works. He is also coeditor of Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print (2013).


"This is without question the best survey of modern Middle Eastern history currently available in English. It is comprehensive, lucid, nuanced, and up to date, but it is also a good read--very well written and entirely accessible to students and general readers alike. I recommend it without hesitation to anyone who wants to acquire a solid understanding of the history of this region from the late Ottoman period onward, and it's a must-read for people who really want to make sense of what is going on in this region today."--Zachary Lockman, New York University

"Gelvin's book is among the very best overviews of the modern Middle East. Its great virtue is that he lets readers in on the really exciting thing about this history--the debate over what has driven the region's dramatic developments. He is also attentive to the history of social classes--beyond just the political elite--and to that of major social movements. It is an essential text for our time."--Juan Cole, University of Michigan

"The Modern Middle East is by far the best textbook for introductory and survey courses. In a humorous and conversational style, it offers a substantial analytical and interpretive framework, not just a litany of dry facts that most students will likely forget after their exams. The book accomplishes two objectives at once: it teaches students how to think about history and it introduces them to many of the key issues of the modern Middle East."--Joel Beinin, Stanford University

"James Gelvin's The Modern Middle East: A History is an excellent introductory text on the history of the Middle East. Through a lively, well-written narrative, Gelvin emphasizes that the Middle East today cannot be understood without looking at the social, economic, cultural, and political history of the region beginning in the seventeenth century. The work also stresses that the history of the Middle East needs to be understood within the global context of the emergence of nation-states, the development of the global economy, and imperialism. Students will benefit from the variety of methodologies used by the author and they will experience each era firsthand through well-chosen primary sources."--Robert Bond, MiraCosta College

"The Modern Middle East: A History provides an accessible, engaging history of the region. Its real strength is its ability to render the region's complicated history accessible to a population of undergraduates, most of them born as the most recent spate of American wars in the region began."--Nova Robinson, Seattle University

The Modern Middle East: A History is the best in its genre. Its primary strengths include its breadth, its analytical investments and sharpness, and the simplicity and accessibility of its prose."--Charles Anderson, Western Washington University

Table of Contents

    Each Part end with Suggested Readings.

    Vignettes and maps
    A Note on Transliteration
    New to this Edition


    Chapter 1. From Late Antiquity to the Dawn of a New Age
    Chapter 2. Gunpowder Empires
    Chapter 3. The Middle East and the Modern World System
    Chapter 4. War, Diplomacy, and the New Global Balance of Power
    Evliya Chelebi: Seyahatanamé(1)
    Evliya Chelebi: Seyahatanamé (2)
    Draft Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the Ottoman Empire and France, February 1535
    The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East-Indies (1)
    The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East-Indies

    Chapter 5. Defensive Developmentalism
    Chapter 6. Imperialism
    Chapter 7. Wasif Jawhariyyeh and the Great Nineteenth-Century Transformation
    Photo Essay: The Great Nineteenth-Century Transformation and Its Aftermath
    Chapter 8. The Life of the Mind
    Chapter 9. Secularism and Modernity
    Chapter 10. Constitutionalism
    Commercial Convention (Balta Liman): Britain and the Ottoman Empire
    The Hatt-i Sharif of Gulhane
    The Islahat Fermani
    The d'Arcy Oil Concession
    Algeria: The Poetry of Loss
    Huda Shaarawi: A New Mentor and Her Salon for Women
    Rifaca Rafic al-Tahtawi: The Extraction of Gold or an Overview of Paris
    Muhammad cAbduh: The Theology of Unity
    Namik Kemal:
    Extract from the Journal H:urriyet
    The Supplementary Fundamental Law of 7 October 1907

    Chapter 11. State-Building by Decree
    Chapter 12. State-Building by Revolution and Conquest
    Chapter 13. The Invention and Spread of Nationalisms
    Chapter 14. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
    An Arab Soldier in the Ottoman Army
    Resolution of the Syrian General Congress at Damascus, 2 July 1919
    Theodor Herzl: A Solution of the Jewish Question
    The Balfour Declaration, 2 November 1917
    Mahmud Darwish: Eleven Planets in the Last Andalusian Sky

    Chapter 15. The Autocratic State
    Chapter 16. Oil
    Chapter 17. The United States and the Middle East
    Chapter 18. Resistance
    Conclusion. A New Middle East?
    Speech Delivered by President Gamal cAbd al-Nasser at Port-Said on the Occasion of Victory Day on 23 December 1961
    Zakaria Tamer: Tigers on the Tenth Day
    Ali Shariati: The Philosophy of History: The Story of Cain and Abel
    Ayatollah Khomeini: Islamic Government
    Sayyid Qutb: Milestones
    "Statement of the April 6 Movement Regarding the Demands of the Youth and the Refusal to Negotiate with Any Side"
    Yassir al-Manawahly: "The International Monetary Fund"

    Biographical Sketches