Thirty years after the publication of The Middle East and the West, Lewis has reissued that excellent study in a slightly updated and enlarged form. The changes are pervasive but not deep; while figures like the Ayatollah Khomeini do appear in its pages, such issues of the 1960s as Arab socialism and Soviet-Egyptian relations remain at the heart of the study.
This said, the 1964 version concludes with the observation that "Friendship will be possible only when Arab nationalism is prepared to come to terms with the West." That having more or less taken place, the 1994 version ends by noting that "for the first time in centuries, the course of events in the Middle East is being shaped not by outside but by regional powers. . . . The choice, at last, is their own." To sum up, while the new first page is identical in substance with the old one, the last pages in the two versions differ completely one from the other.
Shaping of the Modern Middle East has many enduring virtues of which two stand out. It presents with succinct clarity nearly all the great intellectual themes that influenced Middle Eastern life over the past two centuries. And it presents a vision of the Middle East as a whole, with Iran and Turkey no less important than the Arabic-speaking countries, a perspective which causes the Arab-Israeli conflict to shrink to its true proportions. In short, Shaping of the Modern Middle East remains perhaps the best single volume for learning about the vast subject matter it covers.