ForeWord Reviews

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Middle East Conflicts

Foreword Review — May / June 1999

Remember how high school history class had to skimp on twentieth-century history because it was getting toward the end of the year and time was running short? Voilà! Here’s the missing information, in an accessible, comprehensive and compact format for adults: Interlink’s new series of short illustrated histories of major events of the twentieth century. The first three titles in English (translated from Italian and French) are Hitler and Nazism, Gandhi and India and Middle East Conflicts.

One of the best features of the series, and one lacking in many contemporary histories, is that all three volumes set their discussions in context of the history of the region, resulting in a more evenhanded treatment than is provided when looking at events independently. Gandhi and India offers a brief history of India before discussing its most prominent twentieth century statesman, and Hitler and Nazism provides an explanation of the Weimar Republic in helping to explain the rise of its most destructive dictator.

Contemporary posters, cartoons and photographs enhance fact-filled text without substituting for real substance. In Hitler and Nazism, Nazi propaganda posters show how Jews were portrayed as the devil and how the population came to think it heroic to help support the Third Reich. Sidebars also add interesting bits about the book’s topic that don’t quite fit into the main narrative, including an intriguing discussion of Gandhi’s private life in Gandhi and India and a very brief biography of Muammar Qaddafi in Middle East Conflicts.

The Interlink Illustrated Histories are reminiscent of the Traveller’s History Series, published by the same company, but they’re shorter and easier to read. Rather than the history of a whole region in 400 pages, they offer the history of an episode in history in 160 pages, providing a much clearer focus. The shorter books are also far less intimidating in length and scope. The smaller size is much better for travelers who want to take their reading material with them.

In addition to travelers, these short histories are good for history and politics buffs and those who want to know more about a region than what is presented on the nightly news. Each book has a chronology for quick reference and a bibliography for more information. With knowledgeable authors; clear, accessible and understandable text; and comprehensive treatment, this new series offers relevant history in digestible form.

Celeste Sollod