Most Popular Audio Books in History - Middle East

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release date: Jun 06, 2017
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We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.

Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government's ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.

Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.

release date: May 08, 2018
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My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace

The definitive audiobook memoir of one of Israel's most influential soldier-statesmen and one-time Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, with insights into forging peace in the Middle East.

In the summer of 2000, the most decorated soldier in Israel's history―Ehud Barak―set himself a challenge as daunting as any he had faced on the battlefield: to secure a final peace with the Palestinians. He would propose two states for two peoples, with a shared capital in Jerusalem. He knew the risks of failure. But he also knew the risks of not trying: letting slip perhaps the last chance for a generation to secure genuine peace.

It was a moment of truth.

It was one of many in a life intertwined, from the start, with that of Israel. Born on a kibbutz, Barak became commander of Israel's elite special forces, then army Chief of Staff, and ultimately, Prime Minister.

My Country, My Life tells the unvarnished story of his―and his country's―first seven decades; of its major successes, but also its setbacks and misjudgments. He offers candid assessments of his fellow Israeli politicians, of the American administrations with which he worked, and of himself. Drawing on his experiences as a military and political leader, he sounds a powerful warning: Israel is at a crossroads, threatened by events beyond its borders and by divisions within. The two-state solution is more urgent than ever, not just for the Palestinians, but for the existential interests of Israel itself. Only by rediscovering the twin pillars on which it was built―military strength and moral purpose―can Israel thrive.

A must-listen for anyone interested in international affairs and diplomacy.

Praise for My Country, My Life:

"My Country, My Life is a rich and engrossing memoir from one of Israel's premier political leaders, who went from being a decorated soldier to a staunch advocate for peace. Ehud Barak's love for Israel pours through every page of this book, which makes his warnings about the country's future as a Jewish and democratic state all the more powerful, urgent, and real." ― Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

"Ehud Barak's My Country, My Life is a powerful, must-read for anyone interested in peace in the Middle East and, indeed, anywhere in the world. As a journalist who has covered the peace process for many years, I thought I was pretty well-informed. But I must say: I learned a great deal by reading this beautifully written and very candid memoir." ― Wolf Blitzer, CNN

"The life of Ehud Barak is the story of a warrior who became a statesman. My Country, My Life, an aptly titled memoir, is honest, captivating, and moving." ― Dr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State

release date: Jun 01, 2005
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An Issue of Justice: Origins of the Israel/Palestine Conflict (AK Press Audio)

Finkelstein lays out the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict with clarity and passion, arguing that any other similar conflict would be perfectly understood, yet this one exists beneath a blanket of ideological fog. Finkelstein cuts through the fog with indisputable historical facts, optimistic that the struggle is winnable, and that it is simply an issue of justice.

Norman Finkelstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. He is the son of two Holocaust survivors. He received his doctorate from Princeton University for a thesis on the theory of Zionism. He is the author of four books, including The Holocaust Industry. His writings have also appeared in many prestigious journals. Currently he teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago.

release date: Apr 17, 2018
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The Burning Shores: Inside the Battle for the New Libya
The death of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi freed Libya from forty-two years of despotic rule, raising hopes for a new era. But in the aftermath, the country descended into bitter rivalries and civil war, paving the way for the Islamic State and a catastrophic migrant crisis.

In a fast-paced narrative that blends frontline reporting, analysis, and history, Frederic Wehrey tells the story of what went wrong. An Arabic-speaking Middle East scholar, Wehrey interviewed the key actors in Libya and paints vivid portraits of lives upended by a country in turmoil: the once-hopeful activists murdered or exiled, revolutionaries transformed into militia bosses or jihadist recruits, an aging general who promises salvation from the chaos in exchange for a return to the old authoritarianism. He traveled where few or no Western journalists have gone, from the shattered city of Benghazi, birthplace of the revolution, to the lawless Sahara, to the coastal stronghold of the Islamic State in Qadhafi's hometown of Sirte. He chronicles the American and international missteps after the dictator's death that led to the country's unraveling.
release date: Jun 17, 2021
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Jerusalem: The Contested City (The Modern Scholar)
Located in the heart of Israel, Jerusalem is the center for the spiritual world's three largest religions. Throughout its millennia-old history, Jerusalem has been known by many names: Salem, Zion, Hierosolymae, Al-Quds and others, and no city has ever been in more dispute. In scripture, the city's history began nearly 4,000 years ago, when Abraham met Melchizedek, King of Salem. Its significance as a "holy land" is evident by the number of religions that call it their spiritual home. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have struggled for its possession. In the 26 times a new group took over leadership of the city, the "City of Peace" has seen very little of its namesake, even through modern times, and 35 times it was at least partially destroyed. In light of the volatile nature of the Middle East, and today's ongoing conflicts, it is important that we understand why Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lay claim to Jerusalem. Through an in-depth study of the various holy sites in Jerusalem, you'll begin to see which are considered sacred and to whom. And through an investigation of Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, you will see the many different perspectives of pilgrims in days of long ago, and even today.
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release date: Aug 23, 2017
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Kandahar: The History and Legacy of One of Afghanistan's Oldest Cities

The city of Kandahar dates back to the middle of the first millennium BCE, originally as a Persian town on the edge of the great Registan Desert in southeastern Afghanistan, that was reestablished and repopulated by Alexander the Great in the BCE fourth century. The ancient site of Kandahar developed on a rocky ridge some three kilometers to the west of the present-day city of the same name, which was founded in the 18th century.

Kandahar was strategically located on the trade routes connecting India and the Middle East, and for this reason it was the target of many conquerors throughout the ages. The city has been in the hands of Persians, Greeks, Arabs (from the seventh century), Turks (10th century), Mongols (12th century), and Indians (16th century). Later, it was conquered by the Safavid-Persians and the Ghilji, a tribe instrumental in the emergence of the modern state of Afghanistan. Nonetheless, as one writer put it, "The Arab Muslim armies that arrived in the seventh century were following the routes used previously by Persian and Greek invaders, but none of these empires, or the nearly 20 empires and dynasties that came late, found Afghanistan easy to conquer and control. The Afghan peoples, though internally divided, tend to unite in fierce opposition to outsiders."

The old city of Kandahar was abandoned following its near-total destruction in 1738, but a few years later a new city was founded a few kilometers to the east, at the location of present-day Kandahar. Between 1748 and 1773 this was the capital of the new kingdom of Afghanistan. Subsequently, the city was temporarily conquered by British troops during the Anglo-Afghan wars, and has been the site of considerable fighting and destruction during the ongoing conflicts in the region.

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release date: Jul 03, 2018
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The Terrorist Factory: ISIS, the Yazidi Genocide, and Exporting Terror

A riveting, behind-the-scenes look of the Yazidi genocide and the terrorist threat it holds for the West, based on the investigation by Father Patrick Desbois, Costel Nastasie, and their team at Yahad–In Unum, as first shown on 60 Minutes.

With testimony drawn from more than 200 interviews with Yazidi survivors―girls, women, boys, and men―recorded during 11 investigative trips to refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"If you read only one book on this subject, it should be this one.”―Lara Logan, 60 Minutes

The massacre of the Yazidi people by ISIS was nothing less than genocide. In refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, the authors brought a skilled team to interview more than a hundred ISIS survivors and document what they experienced and saw. These former slaves observed their torturers and know from the inside the secret facilities that ISIS has kept hidden from the world. What their testimony reveals is an organization whose ambition is power, regardless of their claim to be "soldiers of God." Their fighters are paid with sex, money, and the power of life and death over captives. Their promised paradise is here and now, not after death.

Men who didn't swear allegiance were executed. Women became slaves for sex or reproduction, and their offspring may still serve the cause. In mobile training camps, the captured children were drugged, indoctrinated, and taught to shoot Kalashnikovs, plant explosives, and handle suicide vests. They are the intended products of the terrorist factory. In this taut, disturbing account, the authors document a utilitarian genocide that still holds an implicit threat to other counties, including those in the West.

release date: Jun 02, 2015
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Antony & Cleopatra
In this remarkable dual biography of the two great lovers of the ancient world, Adrian Goldsworthy goes beyond myth and romance to create a nuanced and historically acute portrayal of his subjects, set against the political backdrop of their time. A history of lives lived intensely at a time when the world was changing profoundly, this book takes listeners on a journey that crosses cultures and boundaries, from ancient Greece and ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire.

Drawing on his prodigious knowledge of the ancient world and his keen sense of the period's military and political history, Goldsworthy creates a singular portrait of the iconic lovers. "Antony and Cleopatra were first and foremost political animals," explains Goldsworthy, who places politics and ideology at the heart of their storied romance. Undertaking a close analysis of ancient sources and archaeological evidence, Goldsworthy bridges the gaps of current scholarship and dispels misconceptions that have entered the popular consciousness. He explains why Cleopatra was consistently portrayed by Hollywood as an Egyptian, even though she was really Greek, and argues that Antony had far less military experience than anyone would suspect from reading Shakespeare and other literature. In addition, Goldsworthy makes an important case for understanding Antony as a powerful Roman senator and political force in his own right.
release date: May 15, 2017
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The Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I: The History and Legacy of the British Empire's Victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East

Most books and documentaries about the First World War focus on the carnage of the Western Front, where Germany faced off against France, the British Empire, and their allies in a grueling slugfest that wasted millions of lives. The shattered landscape of the trenches has become symbolic of the war as a whole, and it is this experience that everyone associates with World War I, but that front was not the only experience. There was the more mobile Eastern Front, as well as mountain warfare in the Alps and scattered fighting in Africa and the Far East.

There was also the Middle Eastern Front, in both the Levant and Mesopotamia, which captured the imagination of the European public. There, the British and their allies fought the Ottoman Turkish Empire under harsh desert conditions hundreds of miles from home, struggling for possession of places most people only knew from the Bible and the Koran.

The campaign to protect British Egypt from Turkish invasion was especially important to the Allied war effort. The Turks sought to cut the Suez Canal, a vital supply route connecting the Mediterranean with British colonies in East Africa and India and Britain's allies in Australia and New Zealand. Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany quipped that the canal was the "jugular vein of the British Empire".

Egypt at the outbreak of war was still nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, though British troops had been there since 1882, and the British ruled in all but name, with an Egyptian khedive as the supposed head of state. When the Ottoman Empire entered the war in late October of 1914, the British were quick to make Egypt a protectorate.

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release date: Apr 20, 1999
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Israel:  A History   Part 1 Of 2
Part One Of Two Parts

In this new account, Martin Gilbert traces Israel's history from the struggles of its pioneers in the nineteenth century up to the present day. Along the way, he describes the defining moments in the history of the Jewish people, among them the Balfour Declaration, the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948, the War of Independence, the conflicts of Suez, the Six Day War, the Intifada as well as the diplomatic watersheds of the Camp David negotiations and the Oslo peace process. Guiding us through the events that have shaped modern-day Israel, Gilbert examines not only Israel's political history and personalities, but also its society, culture, and economy. And even though conflict has been so much a part of its everyday existence, the history of Israel ultimately uplifts and inspires.

"Should be required reading for anyone interested in the causes of the present impasse in the peace process." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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