Tower of the Sun
Michael Totten is a Middle East correspondent and lived for several years in Lebanon. In Tower of the Sun he provides plenty of political and historical analysis of the region that proves interesting, though I am not knowledgable enough to know how much of what he says is biased by his background and upbringing. What I like most about this book are the many detailed descriptions of the people and circumstances the author observes in his travels through the region. He puts a very human face on the regular citizenry and attempts, with some success, to showcase their struggles with lack of religious freedom, sectarianism, radical Islam, constant poverty, and countless other hardships that most Americans and Europeans will never experience. Totten’s descriptions are often poetic, if occasionally forced, but still much of the time the streets, buildings, food, people, and leaders come alive on the pages of this book. This is an easy read and great introduction to the often tantalizing and always complex world that is the Middle East.