Two new books on the Middle East

I have read both of these books and they are both worth reading.

Achcar’s book is more academic and it includes some Marxist theory as Achcar explores the question of why the Arab revolt spread throughout the Arab countries, but not beyond. Achcar has been an activist in Arab politics for decades, as well as an academic specializing in this area, so his knowledge of the Middle East is encyclopedic. For example, Achcar (citing another scholar) takes us through the numerous and contradictory diplomatic initiatives of the Emir of Qatar. Many of us know that the Emir launched Al Jazeera, but that’s where our knowledge stops. With Achcar, that’s where it starts.The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising

Scott Anderson’s book Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East is more journalistic and anecdotal.  It’s an easier read, full of fascinating behind-the-scenes accounts.