I could probably recommend some textbooks I have lying around that were really good with the ancient history of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, but I don't have any syllabi from back then to supplement them. berzirk would probably know all the good ones.
My man! Haven't checked this corner of the forums in awhile, glad I did.
Avi Shlaim-The Iron Wall is a must read IMO. An ethnic Jew, born in Iraq, served in the IDF-world class historian.
-Actually, you know what, I've read all of these and really think they're great:
- Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine (winner of the 1988 Political Studies Association's W. J. M. Mackenzie Prize)
- The Politics of Partition (1990 and 1998)
- War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History (1995)
Currently reading through the Lion of Jordan by Shlaim, but unless you're REALLY interested in Jordanian history, probably a bit of a snoozer. I'm still enjoying it though.
Munther Haddadin- Diplomacy on the Jordan: International Conflict and Negotiated Resolution
-I studied under Dr. Haddadin for a term. Haddadin was the former Water Minister in Jordan. Incredible insight into the behind the scenes negotiations of the Jordanian/Israeli peace process. An Orthodox Christian Arab, who shook up his own countrymen when he found their actions to be bigoted and misguided. One of the 3 smartest people I've ever come in to contact with in my life. His memory is freakish. First time I talked with him he started going on about some event on a particular day in 1960-whatever, and I'm rolling my eyes thinking the guy is full of shit. At the end of his talk I ask him what day it was again, he repeats the same, then tells me the event started at about 1pm. I look it up because I figured nobody has a memory like that...he was right. Has memorized boooooks of poetry, religious scriptures, learns conversational languages from listening to a tape over the course of a day. He's a freak. (Fun sidenote-I'm thanked by name in the acknowledgments section of his book!)
Aaron T Wolf -A Purity of Arms. Maybe more interesting to me, because the guy has grown from esteemed professor, to good friend, but it recounts his days as an American who joined the Israeli Defense Force right before the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising). The 2nd of the 3 smartest people I've ever met in my life. Human perspective on his duty there, and some of the desirable and undesirable things he witnessed and had to act on. Worked with him on a fascinating project funded by the UN and a host of other organizations, which looked at shared water resources and whether cooperation or conflict occurred over them. Overwhelmingly, enemies would come together on water, rather than fight about it. Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD if anyone really has a hardon for published research on the topic)
Jimmy Carter - Peace Not Apartheid. So this one is well documented by critics as being fiercely anti-Semitic and unfair to the Israelis. Proponents consider it as the most public statement on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in many years. To me, there is nothing remotely anti-Semitic about it (remembering that the Arabs are also semitic people) but it definitely is highly critical of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. Personally I agree with much of it, but I do think it gives a free pass to some of the stupid and dangerous actions that Palestinians have taken over the years.
Huge text dump, but in summary, I would suggest starting with Shlaim, seeing if he does it for you, and if not move on to Carter. It's much lighter reading. Then go Wolf, for maybe some more balanced perspective. Shlaim is a must-read.