Conversations With History was conceived in 1982 by Harry Kreisler, as a “way to capture and preserve through conversation and technology the intellectual ferment of our times.” It’s a great series which includes over 500 interviews. Here are five of my favorites concerning various issues related to the Middle East (although there are more than just five great ones, of course).
1. Conversations With History: Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali talks about the creation of Pakistan, issues with India, and the dysfunctionality of the state today. He also talks about Israel, drawing parallels between states with strong religious and ethnic identities and the way that identity cripples them.
2. Conversations With History: Juan Cole
Juan Cole talks about journalism and academia, the way his life changed after the years he spent in Beirut and how he came to do his academic work on Islam. He also talks about his great blog Informed Comment and the idea behind it.
3. Conversations With History: Amira Hass
Famous Israeli journalist Amira Hass talks about Israeli occupation, Palestinian terrorism, and the consequences of the conflict for the daily lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.
4. Conversations With History: Andrew Scott Cooper
Andrew Scott Cooper discusses his book The Oil Kings. Focusing on the geopolitics of the Middle East in the 1970’s, the book centers on the complex relationship between Nixon, Kissinger and the Shah of Iran. Revealing the contradiction between the Shah’s dependence on the rise of oil prices and the need to fund his new military role, Cooper explains how this contradiction resulted in the Shah’s downfall and the implosion of Iran.
5. Conversations With History: John L. Esposito
John L. Esposito, the author of Who speaks for Islam?, talks about the diversity of the Muslim world, extremism, and the complex forces shaping Islam and its relationship with(in) the West.
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