A Military History of the Modern Middle East
by James Brian McNabb
March 2017, 451pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2963-5
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2964-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Middle East remains a center of conflict for both regional and world powers.

This timely study synthesizes past history with the major military events and dynamics of the 20th- and 21st-century Middle East, helping readers understand the region's present—and look into its future.

The Middle East has been—and will continue to be—a major influence on policy around the globe. This work reviews the impact of past epochs on the modern Middle East and analyzes key military events that contributed to forming the region and its people. By helping readers recognize historical patterns of conflict, the book will stimulate a greater understanding of the Middle East as it exists today.

The work probes cause and effect in major conflicts that include the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the World Wars, the Arab-Israeli wars, and the U.S. wars with Iraq, examining the manner in which military operations have been conducted by both internal and external actors. New regional groups—for example, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—are addressed, and pertinent events in Afghanistan and Pakistan are scrutinized. Since military affairs are traditionally an extension of politics and economics, the three are considered together in historical context as they relate to war and peace. The book closes with a chapter on the Arab Awakening and its impact on the future balance of power.


  • Presents the evolution of combat and military thought in the region from ancient times into the contemporary era, summarizing the impact of the ancient and medieval worlds on the modern Middle East
  • Provides a synthesis of Middle Eastern politics, geo-strategy, and military operations
  • Discusses key religious and cultural dynamics that have driven events in the region
  • Focuses on pivotal moments as catalysts for change in the region
  • Examines the nexus between elite interests, factionalism, and the problem of development as it relates to conflict and military decision making
James Brian McNabb, PhD, is adjunct professor with Troy University's Master of Science in International Relations (MSIR) program. He has taught in the Middle East at the American University in Sulaimania, Iraq; in Central Asia at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research; and at California State University, San Bernardino's National Security Studies MA program. His published works include contributions to ABC-CLIO's World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society; the article "The Unanticipated Utility of U.S. Security Structures: Avoiding Cold War II in Central Asia" published in the journal Comparative Strategy; and "Parallels between the Crusades and OEF and OIF? Major Differences, Marked Similarities." McNabb holds a master's degree in national security studies from California State University San Bernardino and a doctorate in international politics from Claremont Graduate University.


"Packing concise history with solid analysis, it is an excellent reference for anyone who wants an overview of how war has and continues to shape this region of the world."—New York Journal of Books, March 30, 2017

"The author's in-depth research and use of primary sources result in a vivid narrative that covers military tactics and the state of the political arena within each time period discussed. An extensive bibliography and several maps lend context and provide resources for further research. Laden with quotes and excerpts from military documents, McNabb's chronological presentation of the content gives students an easy way to seek out material on a particular segment of Middle Eastern military history. VERDICT Best for academic libraries with extensive military history collections and graduate programs."—Library Journal, July 18, 2017

"The book goes beyond mere historical narratives to provide an analytical context on various topics such as the impact of technology on the Middle East conflict, the role of politics, the rivalry of the Great Powers and its cold war, and the continued influence of religion and ethnic and tribal hatred on never-ending conflicts in the region."—Al Jazeera, July 20, 2017

"McNabb covers the key religious and cultural dynamics that have driven events in the region for the last 220 years. In addition, he examines the commonalities and synergies between elite interests, factionalism, and the problem of development within the region as it relates to conflict and military decision making. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice, September 1, 2017

"Overall, this is a superb book if one seeks to understand the history of military affairs in the Middle East, which ultimately has shaped the region’s politics. The author does not spare any details regarding key operations and has an engaging writing style. McNabb has not only traced the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, the consequences and the events that followed, but he makes the reader understand how the history influenced the shape of Middle Eastern affairs in the modern era. In closing, A Military History of the Modern Middle East well deserves a place on the scholar-practitioner’s bookshelf."—Small Wars Journal, October 21, 2017

"This book is an exceptionally detailed, comprehensive examination of military matters in the Middle East that will influence current and future strategists."—The Journal of Military History, April 18, 2018
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