Series: "Modern Middle East Nations and their Strategic Place in the World"

Israel CoverThese two books provide students with accurate, fair, and informative narratives about the long-standing territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. The books are especially effective in tracing the complex histories of Jews and Arabs in the region, emphasizing each people's legitimate historical claims to the land now governed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority-land that was once part of the Ottoman Empire and that, after World War I, became part of the British colonial empire. Effectively complemented by excellent-quality color photos, charts, and statistical sidebars, the texts detail the geography, politics, culture, religion, and relations with the outside world of the two peoples. Both deal with contentious issues fairly and dispassionately (such as the Palestinian Arabs' refugee problem after the 1948 and 1967 wars). . . . Both books have wide-ranging lists for further reading. These substantive, balanced texts (especially used together) are the best introductions to the political conflict currently in print for this age group.

--School Library Journal on Israel and The Palestinians.

In a welcome departure from many recent non-fiction titles about Israel aimed at middle school and high school students, this approaches the subject with a positive attitude toward Israel. Its author is a scholar associated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which serves as editorial consultant to the series. In Garfinkle's other writings and in the Institute's publications, support of Israel is evident. The focus on the book is on the history of Israel's relations with its Arab neighbors and its political policies in general.

Information on economics, geography, natural resources, culture, and religion is integrated with an analysis of security and foreign policy issues. The analysis is lucid and while it will be understandable to the students reading the book, it is more sophisticated than that found in most other similar titles. Jewish claims to the land are traced to Abraham, the changing meaning of the terms "Palestine" and "Palestinians" is put in perspective, and political Zionism is discussed in the context of nationalism and anti-Semitism. A clear picture of the Yishuv is given, along with its discussion about Zionist institution-building that created the social, economic, military, and political infrastructure of the modern state and contrasted so strongly (to Israel's advantage) with Arab/Palestinian policies during the Mandate period. Myths about Palestinian victimhood are shattered without denigrating Palestinian claims and aspirations.

Many maps, charts, and photographs are well placed throughout the text. Appended are a chronology (up to the 2003 Israeli elections), a bibliography of creditable adult books, Internet resources, and an index. Of all the non-fiction about Israel for teenagers that I have reviewed in the last two years, this is the most highly recommended. For grades 7-12.

--AJL Newsletter, on Israel.

Kuwait CoverThese attractive offerings on nations much in the news are clearly written and accurate. Chapters cover each country's physical description; its history, politics, religion, and economy; the people; major cities; and foreign relations. Each chapter has many appropriately selected, full-color photographs and an occasional black-and-white archival reproduction. Boxed material includes facts and extensions of the text. Some excellent web sites are included. . . . For background reading or reports, they are solid choices.

--School Library Journal on Kuwait and Morocco.

Libya CoverIn this series, the North African states (as well as Morocco) are considered Middle Eastern nations by virtue of the fact that they are "linked by ethnicity, language, and religion to the Arabs." The introductions include some of the historical, political, and economic commonalities of the Middle East as well as a discussion of the significant role played by religion. Each title begins with a chapter on the country's place in the world in the form of a brief overview of its history and its situation today. Succeeding chapters cover the land, history, economy, politics, religion, communities, and foreign relations. The clearly written, unbiased texts are comprehensive and informative. . . . All three titles are lavishly illustrated with well-captioned photographs, maps, drawings, and paintings, most of which are in color. Many relevant sidebars are included. These attractive, up-to-date books should find a place on library shelves.

--School Library Journal on Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria.

Iran CoverThis is a thorough, well-documented introduction to the history, geography, people, and culture of Iran that would be suitable for school reports. The text is broken down into paragraphs with sub-headings that make the information easier to digest. Attractive color photographs and maps add further clarity to the text. Interesting fact boxes are scattered throughout the text and are marked by an olive green background. The larger type face makes the book easier to read and a glossary is provided for words that appear in bold type face in the text. The Internet sources are excellent and well-chosen. Overall, this is a timely and visually appealing package that will serve as an adequate update to titles, such as Lyle's Iran (Major World Nations, 1997) and Cartlidge's Iran (Modern Nations of the World, 2002), which have become dated due to recent events, and as a compliment to Greenblatt's Iran (Children's Press, 2003).

--The Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium on Iran.