100 books like Lawrence in Arabia

By Scott Anderson,

Here are 100 books that Lawrence in Arabia fans have personally recommended if you like Lawrence in Arabia. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Mural

Julie Salamon Author Of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

From my list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.

Julie's book list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Julie Salamon Why did Julie love this book?

This collection of poetry by a revered Palestinian poet illuminates his people’s emotional and historic connection to the land that is now the state of Israel.

His poems, many of which were set to music, are credited with solidifying a Palestinian national consciousness. His family was displaced from their home by the Israeli army; when they returned, they lived as second-class citizens.

The work achingly describes an abiding sense of love and loss.

By Mahmoud Darwish (lead author), John Berger (illustrator), Rema Hammami (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mural as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Death as a Way of Life: From Oslo to the Geneva Agreement

Julie Salamon Author Of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

From my list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.

Julie's book list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Julie Salamon Why did Julie love this book?

In novels and non-fiction, Israeli author David Grossman has spent much of his career writing about the failed struggle for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

This series of essays, written over a period of years, chronicles moments of goodwill and hope on both sides, constantly undermined by sectarian passion and extremist opposition to peace. 

By David Grossman, Haim Watzman (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death as a Way of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Death as a Way of Life, David Grossman, one of Israel's great fiction writers, addresses urgent questions regarding the middle east in a series of passionate essays and insightful articles.

Writing not only as one of his country's most respected novelists and commentators, but as a husband and father and peace activist bitterly disappointed in the leaders of both sides, Grossman asks: What went wrong after Oslo? How can Israelis and Palestinians make peace? How has the violence changed their lives, and their souls?


Book cover of Oslo

Julie Salamon Author Of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

From my list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.

Julie's book list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Julie Salamon Why did Julie love this book?

Oslo is a theatrical rendering of the behind-the-scenes negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993.

This Tony-Award-winning play takes a perhaps unreasonably optimistic view of potential peace. Nor will reading (or better yet, seeing) this play satisfy a serious researcher’s desire for historic detail. But it lays out the emotional stakes with humanity and humor, not qualities one usually dares to associate with the conflict in the Middle East.

By J.T. Rogers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oslo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play

 

Winner of the 2017 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play

 

Winner of the 2017 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play

 

“Oslo is a wonderful and moving work that portrays how real diplomacy works. The play shows us what can happen when men and women on opposite sides of what is perceived as an intractable divide strive to create a shared humanity.” – Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations

 

“A disarmingly funny masterpiece.” – Huffington Post

 

“So human and so funny. Oslo is gripping, compelling, and compulsively…


Book cover of My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

Julie Salamon Author Of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

From my list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.

Julie's book list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Julie Salamon Why did Julie love this book?

My Promised Land is beautifully written, a story deeply informed by the author’s family history and the body of knowledge he built as an influential Israeli journalist.

Shavit loves the place of his birth but doesn’t retreat from hard questions. He tells a powerful, poignant story of a state-created out of tragedy and the brutal reality of what Jewish statehood has wrought for yet another disinherited group.

There are no easy answers, and Shavit offers none. But he presents the complexities and frustrations with intellectual rigor and literary grace.

By Ari Shavit,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Promised Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST

Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal…


Book cover of The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century

Vassily Klimentov Author Of A Slow Reckoning: The USSR, the Afghan Communists, and Islam

From my list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the Cold War and early post-Cold War period, focusing on Soviet/ Russian foreign policy in Afghanistan and in the Middle East in the 1970s and the 1980s. These are exciting topics on which an increasing number of new documents are released each year. I have a research project and lecture about these issues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. But academia is my second career. Before my Ph.D., I worked as an aid worker, including for two years in the Middle East. I was in the region during the height of the Syrian crisis, notably running humanitarian multi-sector needs assessments.

Vassily's book list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan

Vassily Klimentov Why did Vassily love this book?

I felt it was the most narratively satisfying of Steve Coll’s many excellent books. If others are better at tackling big issues and uncovering ‘smoking guns,’ this one reads like a fiction novel.

The story of the Bin Ladens is incredible. It encompasses those of the notorious terrorist Osama Bin Laden, but it goes way beyond that. Coll tells the reader of the Americanized half-brothers and half-sisters of Osama and of a family that incarnated globalization in the 20th century.

Overall, I got a completely different perspective on the rise of Islamism and Islamist terrorism reading this book. 

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bin Ladens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The rise and rise of the Bin Laden family is one of the great stories of the twentieth century; its repercussions have already deeply marked the twenty-first. Until now, however, it is a story that has never been fully told, as the Bin Ladens have successfully fended off attempts to understand the family circles from which Osama sprang. In this the family has been abetted by the kingdom it calls home, Saudi Arabia, one of the most closed societies on earth.

Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century is the groundbreaking history of a family…


Book cover of The Making of the Modern Middle East: A Personal History

Vassily Klimentov Author Of A Slow Reckoning: The USSR, the Afghan Communists, and Islam

From my list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the Cold War and early post-Cold War period, focusing on Soviet/ Russian foreign policy in Afghanistan and in the Middle East in the 1970s and the 1980s. These are exciting topics on which an increasing number of new documents are released each year. I have a research project and lecture about these issues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. But academia is my second career. Before my Ph.D., I worked as an aid worker, including for two years in the Middle East. I was in the region during the height of the Syrian crisis, notably running humanitarian multi-sector needs assessments.

Vassily's book list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan

Vassily Klimentov Why did Vassily love this book?

I bought Jeremy Bowen’s book by chance as I searched for books about the Middle East. I wanted something different from the traditional (and sometimes a bit difficult to read) academic nonfiction book. This book appealed to me because it was written in a journalistic style and because it was as much a book about recent history as one about Bowen’s own travels and encounters in the Middle East. Well, I was not disappointed.

I really enjoyed reading Bowen’s recollections of his time in the Middle East and critical reflections on great powers’ involvement there. That is a book I felt gave a good sense of how the West has mismanaged its policies in the region during the past fifty years. 

By Jeremy Bowen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of the Modern Middle East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Spectator Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book of the Year
'An illuminating and riveting read' - Jonathan Dimbleby

Jeremy Bowen, the International Editor of the BBC, has been covering the Middle East since 1989 and is uniquely placed to explain its complex past and its troubled present.

In The Making of the Modern Middle East - in part based on his acclaimed podcast, 'Our Man in the Middle East' - Bowen takes us on a journey across the Middle East and through its history. He meets ordinary men and women on the front line, their leaders, whether…


Book cover of A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Vassily Klimentov Author Of A Slow Reckoning: The USSR, the Afghan Communists, and Islam

From my list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the Cold War and early post-Cold War period, focusing on Soviet/ Russian foreign policy in Afghanistan and in the Middle East in the 1970s and the 1980s. These are exciting topics on which an increasing number of new documents are released each year. I have a research project and lecture about these issues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. But academia is my second career. Before my Ph.D., I worked as an aid worker, including for two years in the Middle East. I was in the region during the height of the Syrian crisis, notably running humanitarian multi-sector needs assessments.

Vassily's book list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan

Vassily Klimentov Why did Vassily love this book?

I think that this is the best book about the politics of the Soviet-Afghan War. Artemy Kalinovsky writes in a vivid style and shows the intricate behind-the-scenes discussions between Soviets and Americans that led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1980s.

Many historical books are a dull read, but this book is not. I really like how Kalinovsky helps the reader feel as if they are at the center of the story.

By Artemy M. Kalinovsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Long Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The conflict in Afghanistan looms large in the collective consciousness of Americans. What has the United States achieved, and how will it withdraw without sacrificing those gains? The Soviet Union confronted these same questions in the 1980s, and Artemy Kalinovsky's history of the USSR's nine-year struggle to extricate itself from Afghanistan and bring its troops home provides a sobering perspective on exit options in the region.

What makes Kalinovsky's intense account both timely and important is its focus not on motives for initiating the conflict but on the factors that prevented the Soviet leadership from ending a demoralizing war. Why…


Book cover of Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq

Vassily Klimentov Author Of A Slow Reckoning: The USSR, the Afghan Communists, and Islam

From my list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the Cold War and early post-Cold War period, focusing on Soviet/ Russian foreign policy in Afghanistan and in the Middle East in the 1970s and the 1980s. These are exciting topics on which an increasing number of new documents are released each year. I have a research project and lecture about these issues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. But academia is my second career. Before my Ph.D., I worked as an aid worker, including for two years in the Middle East. I was in the region during the height of the Syrian crisis, notably running humanitarian multi-sector needs assessments.

Vassily's book list on the modern Middle East and Afghanistan

Vassily Klimentov Why did Vassily love this book?

I liked Samuel Helfont’s book for the solidity of his research on the instrumentalization of Islam by the Saddam Hussein regime.

I personally feel that the 1980s is a key period in understanding how some of the problems that emerged during the late Cold War are still relevant today. This is certainly true for the Middle East, a region that is prone to conflicts and where the United States has been involved militarily over the past forty years.

Beyond that, I enjoyed Helfont’s writing which is strikingly dynamic.

By Samuel Helfont,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Compulsion in Religion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Samuel Helfont draws on extensive research with Ba'thist archives to investigate the roots of the religious insurgencies that erupted in Iraq following the American-led invasion in 2003. In looking at Saddam Hussein's policies in the 1990s, many have interpreted his support for state-sponsored religion as evidence of a dramatic shift away from Arab nationalism toward political Islam. While Islam did play a greater role in the regime's symbols and Saddam's statements in the 1990s than it had in earlier decades, the regime's internal documents challenge this theory.

The "Faith Campaign" Saddam launched during this period was the culmination of a…


Book cover of The Doomed Oasis

Louise Burfitt-Dons Author Of Our Man In Kuwait

From my list on spies in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a thriller writer who was born and grew up in Kuwait during a period when the country was threatened with invasion by Iraq. My father was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited the country and they became close friends. At the time Britain depended on inside information to prepare for military Operation Vantage. The experiences I had of that time and of that relationship, even as a child, were crying out to be written about. Despite the Middle East being a hotspot for espionage during that period of the Cold War, there’s been relatively little written about it.

Louise's book list on spies in the Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Why did Louise love this book?

Moving back to fiction, this swashbuckling adventure story moves between Wales and the Middle East. Published in 1960 it is a little dated in style but packs a punch as a fun thriller as much as giving a background into the politics of the region and the development of the oil industry. It has been described by others as more like watching an old black and white movie. However, it still captures some of the essential elements of the time and the harshness of warfare in the boiling heat. 

By Hammond Innes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Doomed Oasis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping adventure set in the Arabian Desert, where the shadow of British colonialism threatens to destroy a father and son.

Three years ago, nineteen-year-old David Thomas beat his father to death. Actually, David only punched the old man, but it was hard enough to cause him to have a fatal stroke. And the man wasn’t really David’s father at all: The fight started because David learned that his true father was Col. Charles Stanley Whitaker, a legendary figure who made his fortune in the oil fields of the Arabian Desert.
 
With the help of George Grant, a lawyer he’d…


Book cover of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response

Michelle Tusan Author Of The Last Treaty: Lausanne and the End of the First World War in the Middle East

From my list on World War I and the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I teach and write about topics ranging from feminism to World War. I became interested in the history of the Armenian Genocide because my grandmother was a survivor. Other books I’ve written include: Women Making News: Gender and Journalism in Modern Britain; Smyrna’s Ashes: Humanitarianism, Genocide and the Birth of the Middle East and The British Empire and the Armenian Genocide. 

Michelle's book list on World War I and the Middle East

Michelle Tusan Why did Michelle love this book?

I think this book explains why genocide happens under the cover of war. It made me see why both World War I and World War II were marked by genocides. I really liked how the author explained why the Armenian Genocide was a key event of World War I.

Balakian is a poet who turned to history writing to explain the experience of genocide and demonstrate the central importance of the international response to genocide. He uses interesting source material from eyewitnesses and official archives to trace both the humanitarian response and military decisions that brought the US into the war on the side of the Allies in the wake of the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.

By Peter Balakian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Burning Tigris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A History of International Human Rights and Forgotten Heroes

In this national bestseller, the critically acclaimed author Peter Balakian brings us a riveting narrative of the massacres of the Armenians in the 1890s and of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Using rarely seen archival documents and remarkable first-person accounts, Balakian presents the chilling history of how the Turkish government implemented the first modern genocide behind the cover of World War I. And in the telling, he resurrects an extraordinary lost chapter of American history.

Awarded the Raphael Lemkin Prize for the best scholarly…


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