What are the best books you have read on the Middle East? Fiction or non-fiction - but the books which you learned most from, or which most challenged your thinking. Here's a few that have always stuck in my head...but I'm looking forward to hearing about some new ones here. Off-topic responses will be ignored. Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt Understanding Israel means understanding the Holocaust, and this is Holocaust 101. Hugely controversial, the Jewish Arendt lived with Nazi philosopher Martin Heidigger prior to WWII, and her acerbic wit throughout the book offended almost everyone. Back it up with her monumental History of Totalitarianism. A Peace To End All Peace, David Fromkin This book alone would cancel out 30% of the posts in this forum! Focusing on the key years from 1914 1922, Fromkin chronicles the fall of the Ottoman empire and the rise of Palestinian nationalism through the period of the third Aliyah. An essential, irreplaceable read. The Arabs, David Lamb An LA Times journalist based in Cairo, Lamb travels from Mauritania to Oman, interviewing Arabs and coming to understand their language and history. Balanced, gentle and analytical, it is a terrific insight for westerners. Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedmann The most balanced book on the conflict I have read, Friedmann attacks both sides with equal venom, and in doing so, creates a sense of real truth and honesty. I dont agree with all he says, but you have to admire his experience and commitment. Not many Jewish journalists hang out in Beirut. I Sweep The Sun Off Rooftops, Hanan al-Shaykh All of her books are beautiful, small tales or ordinary lives in Beirut and Palestine. Exquisitely written, their insight into normal, Arabic lives seems almost accidental. Her short stories are also wonderful. Orientalism, Edward Säid Probably the most significant book ever written by a Palestinian, Säid attacks the western historians who insist on writing Arabic history in a colonialist tone, demanding that Arabic voices must tell their own stories. Impressively intellectual, the books spans genres and faculties, commanding a place in most studies of the region. Lebanon, The Fractured Country, Robert Gilmour Written in 1983, this book still stands out as a model of passionate, informed history. Though biased, the book is unique in its insight into the fighting that marred Beirut in the 1980s. His writing on Palestine is also terrific. Arabia Through The Looking Glass, Jonathon Raban Even older, this warm, gentle book traces a path and length and breadth of the Arabic world, contrasting the lives of Arabs in Yemen and Qatar with those in London and Cairo. The fact that the author is a travel writer and not a journalist or historian makes the book unusual. My Michael, Amos Oz Israels greatest writer is always worth reading, and no more so than in this sad, profound story of life and love in Jerusalem. His writing illuminates the life of Israelis with such gentle warmth and honesty. Israel/Palestine, Tanya Reinhart Hugely controversial in Israel, the (Jewish) author catalogues human rights violations committed by Israel, and accuses Israel of faking the peace process. While obviously biased, it is also a very compelling look into a side of the conflict many people are unaware of. For those who think Israel is the good guy, it is a sobering read.