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Recommended Reading for Teachers

The following books are introductory works recommended by UNC Chapel Hill Faculty for teachers who are interested in knowing more about the Middle East.


…on the History of the Middle East

The Modern Middle East: A History | James L. Gelvin, revised edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015): An overview of the making of the Middle East by one of America’s foremost historians of the region.

A History of the Muslim World to 1405: The Making of a Civilization | Vernon O. Egger (Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004): A standard textbook on the early history of the Middle East and related regions that is assigned in introductory courses on the subject at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

…on the Politics of the Middle East

Politics and Society in the Contemporary Middle East | Michele Penner Angrist, editor, 2nd edition (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013): A comprehensive collection of thematic and country-based chapters written by leading scholars on Middle East politics.

The Arab Uprisings Explained: New Contentious Politics in the Middle East | Marc Lynch, Editor (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014): A set of challenging analyses of the “Arab Spring” uprisings and their aftermath written by leading scholars on Middle East politics.

…on Islam

Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World | Carl W. Ernst (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003): A readable, non-ideological introduction to the beliefs and practices of Muslims today, written by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s senior Islamic studies professor.

The Cambridge Companion to American Islam | Juliane Hammer and Omid Safi, editors (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013): An authoritative collection of essays on multiple aspects of Muslim life in the United States, co-edited by Islamic studies professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations | Michael Sells: This book consists of thirty-five suras, or short passages from the Qur’an. Easily accessible to any college-level reader, these suras are poetic and intensely evocative, beautiful meditations, comparable in many ways to the Psalms of David and other classics of world literature. Click here to learn about the controversy over assigning this as the book for the 2002 UNC Summer Reading Program.

…on Islamic Art and Culture

Art of the Islamic World: A Resource for Educators | Maryam D. Ekhtiar and Claire Moore, editors (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012). (Online at A beautiful combination of images and lesson plans developed in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s re-opening of its outstanding collection of Islamic art.

Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture | Hisham D. Aidi (New York: Vintage Books, 2014): An engaging exploration of musical influences — including jazz, hip-hop, Afro-pop, Sufi chants, and Andalusian folk music — among Muslims in North Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

If you are interested in reading on a specific topic, please e-mail Director of Outreach, Emma Harver, at with your specific request.