Why use reference books?
Use the index (or search) these books to identify entries related to your topic or areas of interest. You might not find entries that narrowly focus on your topic; if so, try to find entries that relate broadly.
Use reference books to:
- Contextualize your topic (and get background information)
- Find search terms (for use in databases and primary source collections)
- Identify which aspects of a topic interest you
- Get citations for relevant books, articles, and primary source collections
- Identify which scholars have written about the topic
- Identify areas of debate and disagreement in the scholarly literature
Handbooks and Companions
The following sources provide overviews of Middle Eastern history. They are a quick way to find out the basic facts and recent scholarly interpretations.
When using an article in an encyclopedia or handbook, always check the bibliography for further reading at the end of the article. It will provide a selective list of the books and articles you can start with.
Historians have interpreted events in the Middle East from a variety of different viewpoints. Analysis of these interpretations, known generally as historiography, can give more nuance to your arguments and provide a greater context for your understanding.
You can also find book reviews by searching Historical Abstracts (history journal article database).