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Summary

A timely and unprecedented examination of how the modern Middle East unravelled and why it started with the pivotal year of 1979. 

'What happened to us?'

For decades, the question has haunted the Arab and Muslim world, heard across Iran and Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and in the author's home country of Lebanon. Was it always so? When did the extremism, intolerance and bloodletting of today displace the region's cultural promise and diversity? 

In Black Wave, award-winning journalist and author Kim Ghattas argues that the turning point in the modern history of the Middle East can be located in the toxic confluence of three major events in 1979: the Iranian revolution; the siege of the Holy Mosque in Mecca; and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Before this year, Saudi Arabia and Iran had been working allies and twin pillars of US strategy in the region - but the radical legacy of these events made them mortal enemies, unleashing a process that transformed culture, society, religion and geopolitics across the region for decades to come. 

Drawing on a sweeping cast of characters across seven countries over 40 years, Ghattas demonstrates how this rivalry for religious and cultural supremacy has fed intolerance, suppressed cultural expression, encouraged sectarian violence, birthed groups like Hezbollah and ISIS and, ultimately, upended the lives of millions. At once bold and intimate, Black Wave is a remarkable and engrossing story of the Middle East as it has never been told before.

©2020 Kim Ghattas (P)2020 Tantor

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A real five star eye opener

This is an extraordinary book. Making sense and unraveling a complex story that has shaped our world. Should be compulsory reading for anyone in government.

4 people found this helpful

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Too Detailed and Light on Analysis

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I found it too detailed and light on analysis. Much of the book is descriptive but I felt that the author was almost afraid to take a position. I sensed that the author's worldview was based on liberalism but at other times she was passionately supporting the underdog, taking a Marxist perspective. I would have preferred less historic data and more analysis. Overall its an impressive piece of research but could have been improved with a theoretical framework.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Beautifully narrated riveting explanation of 40 years of Middle East history. For someone with only a passing interest in this area, this book took me on a wonderful tour around the region and through time. A thread is delicately weaved through tales of people and towns that I had heard on the news throughout my life. I am looking forward to listening to it again armed with insight gained from the first hearing.

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Superb

Rarely write reviews but will make a exception for this as it is absolutely gripping from the first page. Would highly recommend even if you feel you have only a outline interest in middle east related issues.

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Brilliant

Magnificent listen for anyone interested to understand and learn about the complex dynamics in the Middle East and empathise with its people.