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Between Memory and Desire

The Middle East in a Troubled Age, Updated with a New Preface

R. Stephen Humphreys (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 328 pages
ISBN: 9780520246911
November 2005
$29.95, £25.00
Middle Easterners today struggle to find solutions to crises of economic stagnation, political gridlock, and cultural identity. In recent decades Islam has become central to this struggle, and almost every issue involves fierce, sometimes violent debates over the role of religion in public life. In this post-9/11 updated edition R. Stephen Humphreys presents a thoughtful analysis of Islam's place in today's Middle East and integrates the medieval and modern history of the region to show how the sacred and secular are tightly interwoven in its political and intellectual life.
Preface to the 2005 Edition
Preface to the First Edition

1. Hard Realities: Population Growth and Economic Stagnation
2. From Imperialism to the New World Order: The Middle East in Search of a Future
3. The Strange Career of Pan-Arabism
4. The Shaping of Foreign Policy: The Myth of the Middle East Madman
5. Military Dictatorship and Political Tradition in the Middle East
6. Profane and Sacred Politics: The Ends of Power in the Middle East
7. Islam as a Political System
8. Jihad and the Politics of Salvation
9. Women in Public Life: Islamic Perspectives, Middle Eastern Realities
10. Islam and Human Rights

Toward a Conclusion—Between Memory and Desire
A Bibliographic Note
R. Stephen Humphreys is Professor of History and Islamic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry (second edition, 1991) among other works.

"Humphreys brings a historian’s deep and dispassionate perspective to the modern Middle East. In Between Memory and Desire, he poses incisive questions, elaborates convincing arguments and does not shy from tackling the prickliest of topics. All this is achieved with an eye for telling detail and a concise style that is rare in academic writing…. Humphreys’s work is in the best tradition of writing on foreign cultures. Objective yet sympathetic, scholarly yet accessible, his book ends up revealing as much about our own society as about those it describes."—Max Rodenbeck, New York Times Book Review

"In this sober and highly informative book, Humphreys introduces educated readers to the nuances of Middle Eastern political and social discourse. He goes behind the headlines and offers a sophisticated and yet accessible analysis of Islamic polity for Western readers."—Library Journal

"'People know a lot of things that aren't so,' warns Stephen Humphreys, and then he tells us all we should really know about the Middle East—a vast, complex, and frequently misunderstood universe. It is a rare achievement that combines erudition, compelling writing, and personal experience."—Meron Benvenisti, author of City of Stone

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