The field of Middle East studies is undergoing a generational change in academia, government, and the corporate community. The men and women who trained the present generation of scholars and who shaped government and corporate policies toward the Middle East after World War II have begun to retire, and unfortunately some have recently died.
To preserve their insights into the past and their visions of the future, Thomas Naff asked a number of major Islamic and Middle East scholars to provide their perspectives and views in a short, personal summation of their careers. This book is a compilation of their responses. It provides a unique evaluation of the last 30 or 40 years by ten of the most distinguished pioneers representing key branches of the field. Pierre Cachia, Albert Hourani, J. C. Hurewitz, Halil Inalcik, Charles Issawi, Ernest McCarus, George Makdisi, Don Peretz, Dankwart A. Rustow, and Farhat J. Ziadeh have provided their perspectives on the past and present, their visions of future paths to be explored, and their wisdom drawn from decades of experience and scholarship.
Whatever didacticism is offered in this book is not formal. Lessons, insights, wisdom, and inspiration are almost invisibly woven into the fabric of fascinating biographical narrative told with wit, style, self-effacement, and candor.
Thomas Naff is Associate Professor of History in the Department of Asian and Middle East Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the former director of the Middle East Center and the Middle East Institute at that university.
"This book brings together autobiographical reflections of some of the most prominent representatives of a generation of scholars whose contributions mark a turning point in the study of the Middle East. "—John P. Spagnolo, Simon Fraser University
"Taken together, the chapters of this book reflect not only the intellectual and professional development of their authors but, perhaps more important, the slow and often difficult evolution of Middle East studies in the United States. Nowhere have the intellectual experiences of this group of distinguished Middle East specialists, each one a pioneer in the field, been put together in a single work. The fact that their autobiographical essays are collected in a single volume makes this an unusual book worth having in one's personal library. "—Hermann Frederick Eilts, Boston University