A History of the Middle East, Philip Mansfield
A succinct history of the region over the past 200 years: "A brilliantly deft and well-informed guide... Peter Mansfield compresses the whole tumultuous development of this vast region into 350 coherent, dispassionate and remarkably inclusive pages", The Times Educational Supplement.
The Making of Jordan: Tribes, Colonialism and the Modern State, Yoav Alon
A well-written study of the transformation of Jordan from a collection of nomadic tribes to a modern state: essential reading.
Petra and the Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans, Jane Taylor
A beautifully illustrated book telling the story of this lost civilisation.
Petra: the Rose-Red City, (New Horizons) Christian Auge and Jean-Marie Denzer
A pocket-sized, illustrated history of the hidden city by two archaeologists.
King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life, Nigel Ashton
A recent, well-researched biography of the King of Jordan, giving an insight into his relationship with the Middle East during the second half of the 20th Century.
Setting the Desert on Fire: T E Lawrence and Britain’s Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918, James Barr
A fascinating account of a key moment in the Great War: "Barr's cogent, vividly written book puts Lawrence centre stage but does not lose sight of the uprising's larger historical context".
A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that shaped the Middle East
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, Scott Anderson
War correspondent Scott Anderson’s masterly account of a complex subject: "the best work of military history in recent memory and an illuminating analysis of issues that still loom large today", New York Times.
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T E Lawrence
T E Lawrence’s classic tale of war in the Middle East: "Round this tent-pole of a military chronicle, T. E. has hung an unexampled fabric of portraits, descriptions, philosophies, emotions, adventures, dreams", E.M. Forster.
Married to a Bedouin, Marguerite van Geldermalsen
A fascinating insight into the Bedouin’s last years living in Petra: a moving and beautifully written book.
Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life, Queen Noor Al-Hussein of Jordan.
Southern Frontiers, Don McCullin
Not one to pack in one’s bag, but a stunning coffee table book full of Don McCullin’s extraordinary black and white photographs of ruins at the southern borders of the Roman Empire. Text by Barnaby Rogerson, publisher of the wonderful Eland Press collection of travel memoirs.
Staircase of a Thousand Steps, Masha Hamilton
The story of a young girl in a remote desert village in Transjordan, just before the 1967 war with Israel.
Appointment with Death, Agatha Christie
The great detective Hercule Poirot has only 24 hours to investigate murder in Petra.
Alternatives to the excellent Rough Guide, include:
An excellent, informative guide with plenty of historical and cultural detail.
An illustrated guide, focusing on history and culture.
A practical guide with detailed information on each region and its historical context.
Places in Jordan, Francis Russell
A pocket sized guide to some of the major sites, by an art historian.