Southwest Asia- Recommended Books

Learn more about the countries and people of Southwest Asia! Delve into contemporary works on the history, politics and culture of the region by checking out the books listed below from the IUPUI University Library and other IU libraries.

These titles have been personally selected from the extensive IU libraries catalog (IUCAT) by the University Library Diversity Fellows.  

(Summaries are provided, when available, from the book’s listing in IUCAT)


Ataturk: The Biography of the founder of modern Turkey by Andrew Mango

Available from B-WELLS

The Ayatollah begs to differ: the paradox of modern Iran by Hooman Majd

Available from B-WELLS

Summary: The son of an Iranian diplomat and the grandson of an ayatollah grew up in exile, yet he also remained closely attached to his homeland. Majd's reports on his travels throughout Iran try to explain the economic, political, and social forces that lie at its heart, and to show the paradoxes of the Iranian character that have baffled Americans.

Contemporary Arab thought: Studies in post-1967 Arab intellectual history  by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: DS36.88 .A275 2004

Istanbul: memories and the city by Orhan Pamuk

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: DR723 .P368 2006

Summary: A portrait, by turns intimate and panoramic, of one of the world's great cities, by its foremost man of letters. Blending reminiscence with history; family photographs with portraits of poets and pashas; art criticism, metaphysical musing, and, now and again, a fanciful tale, Pamuk invents an ingenious form to evoke his lifelong home, the city that forged his imagination. He begins with his childhood, his first intimations of the melancholy awareness of living in the seat of ruined imperial glories, in a country trying to become "modern" at the crossroads of East and West. Against a background of shattered monuments, neglected villas, ghostly backstreets, and, above all, the fabled waters of the Bosphorus, he charts the evolution of a rich imaginative life, which furnished a daydreaming boy refuge from family discord and inner turmoil, and which would continue to serve the famous writer he was to become. --From publisher description.

Jealous gods and chosen people: the mythology of the Middle East by David A. Leeming

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: BL1060 .L43 2004

Notes: "A new perspective on the ancient myths of modern-day Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf States, and saudi Arabia."--Jacket.

Lipstick Jihad: a memoir of growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: E184.I5 M63 2005

Summary: An Iranian-American journalist, who grew up as a California girl living in two worlds, returns to Tehran and discovers not only the oppressive and decadent life of her Iranian counterparts who have grown up since the revolution, but the pain of searching for identity between two cultures, and for a homeland that may not exist. The landscape of her Tehran--ski slopes, fashion shows, malls and cafes--is populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair brings the modern reality of Iran to vivid life.

Modern Iran: roots and results of revolution by Nikki R. Keddie

                Available from B-WELLS

The Other Islam: Sufism and the road to global harmony by Stephen Schwartz

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: BP188.5 .S34 2008

Summary: Many Americans today identify Islam with hatred of the West. This book transforms this image and opens the way to finding common ground in our troubled times. Sufism, a blend of the mystical and rational tendencies within Islam, emerged soon after the revelation of Muhammad. A reforming movement against the increasing worldliness of Muslim society, it focuses on Islam's spiritual dimension. Described as "Islam of the heart," Sufism has attracted adherents among both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, as well as Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists. Journalist Schwartz traces the origins and history of Sufism, elucidates its teachings, and illustrates its links to the other religions. He comments on celebrated Sufi poets and philosophers and narrates their influence on the Kabbalah, on the descendants of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, and on Christian mystics, as well as the American transcendentalists. He also presents a fresh survey of Sufism in today's Islamic world.--From publisher description.

The Oxford History of Islam edited by John L. Esposito

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: BP50 .O95 1999

Persian pilgrimages: journeys across Iran by Afshin Molavi

                Available from B-WELLS

Prominent women from Central Arabia by Dal’al bint Makhlad Harb’i

                Available from B-WELLS

Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present by Mark Weston

                Available from B-WELLS


Ali and Nino: A Love story  by Kurban Said

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: PT2637.A433 A713 2000b

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: PN6747.S245 P4713 2003

The Sand Café by Neil MacFarquhar

                Call number at I-UNIVLIB: PS3613.A2724 S26 2006

Library code: B-WELLS (Bloomington Herman B Wells Library)   I-UNIVLIB (IUPUI University Library)

If you have any feedback or suggestions you can reach the Diversity Fellows at their joint email address,

Last updated by on 12/01/2008