Very readable and insight-filled, The New Middle East: The World After The Arab Spring by Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) provides valuable context to the events of 2010-2011 in the region. As the BBC’s Middle East bureau chief from 2010-2013, the author was an eyewitness to what happened, and the immediate aftermath. Participants on both sides of the various uprisings provide comments, and the author vividly describes scenes like his viewing of the body of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a meat locker.
I learned quite a bit from this book, and found the chapters on Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict particularly interesting. But, it must be noted that this book — like all history books, especially those chronicling near-past events — is a snapshot in time. Subsequent events inevitably change those who determine “the past,” or at least reveal new information which in turn results in new interpretations.
In the case of The New Middle East, there is no mention of the Islamic State, which is not surprising as the book was published before the group became widely known after declaring a worldwide caliphate. Reading the chapters on Syria and Libya, I felt the group’s lurking presence, but to get a better understanding of the situation will require further research (which isn’t a bad thing, really).
All in all, as stated, I found the book to be both informative and written in a style that drew me into the narrative, frequently using the author’s personal observations or those of interviewed locals. It is an excellent primer for those seeking to learn more about the background of the Arab Spring throughout the region as well as the immediate aftermath.