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Demystifying the Middle East, West and East

Understanding of the Middle East by social scientists and by the general public has long been beset by a set of convergent pressures and myths, some factual, some pertaining to religion, some relics of colonialism, and by the very violence and emotion that the region appears to occasion. In his recent book, 100 Myths about the Middle East, Fred Halliday FBA, an academic with forty years personal experience of, and research on, the region, seeks to address this apparent gulf in understanding which is, he argues, compounded by the myths generated within the Middle East that reinforce stereotypes from the west. His work, contains both a discussion of a hundred misconceptions about these countries, some widespread, some more recondite, as well as a glossary of words thrown up by September 11 and its aftermath; a compendium of political terms, euphemisms, acronyms and historical allusions that serve, in the west and in the Islamic world, to express and legitimate contemporary concerns.

Professor Halliday was in conversation with Roger Owen, A. J. Meyer Professor of Middle East History, Harvard University and author of The Middle East in the World Economy, 1800-1914 and State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Middle East.