With little end in sight to the United States’ protracted stay in the Middle East, it’s important to understand the history of this crucible of civilization. T. C. F. Hopkins, author of Confrontation at Lepanto: Christendom vs. Islam, gives us Empires, Wars, and Battles, providing a short but detailed history of the Middle East beginning with the settling of civilization, when towns and cities were first formed long, long ago. It’s not really surprising that the birthplace of civilization remains a very important location for today’s world. Empires, Wars, and Battles serves as an excellent short history book into the past of this renowned but relatively unknown place in the world.
The book is only split into five chapters covering over two hundred and fifty pages. Hopkins presents the reader with a lot of information that is not very well divided: “The Ancient World,” “The Roman Period,” “Byzantium and Islam,” “The Rise of the Ottoman Empire,” and “The Ottoman Century and Beyond.” Because centuries of history and events need to be covered in these chapters, the book would have been more approachable if the chapters had been parts, with further chapter divisions. It is a nonstop narrative of information given to the reader in each chapter, leaving them overwhelmed to say the least. Nevertheless, for those looking for an informational download to be quickly read who already understand the cultures somewhat already, this is the ideal book. Also, as overbearing as it may, Hopkins, in this way, presents the history with dates and battles from this group to that group, from the Hittites and the Huns and the Mongols, all in different locations with different intentions. This is a relatively accurate portrayal of the confusing way of life that existed in southwest Europe and the Middle East during this time.
While my hope with Empires, Wars, and Battles was that Hopkins would link events and occurrences of the past with explanations for the situation at the present, there is only a sentence or two here and there that tries to link with what today’s Middle East is like. But Hopkins goes on to say that Empires, Wars, and Battles serves more as a companion book to Confrontation at Lepanto, which when both are read will no doubt provide a clearer picture on the enigmatic Middle East with its different cultures and faiths.
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Originally written on June 28th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.