Western civilization began in the Middle East: Judaism and Christianity, as well as Islam, were born there. For over a millennium, the Islamic empires were ahead of the West in learning, technology and medicine, and were militarily far more powerful. It took another three hundred centuries for the West to catch up, and overtake, the Middle East. Why does it seem different now? Why does Osama bin Laden see 1918, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, as the year everything changed? These issues are explained in historical detail here, in a way that deliberately seeks to go behind the rhetoric to the roots of present conflicts. A Brief History of the Middle East is essential reading for an intelligent reader wanting to understand what one of the world's key regions is all about. Fully updated with a new section on the Iraq Invasion of 2003, the question of Iran and the full context of the Isreali/Palestine conflict.