Fifty Years of Fascination: The Middle East and Me

At the start of my junior year in college, precisely fifty years ago this month, I changed my college major, making the leap from mathematics to Middle East studies. Math had become too hard, the region too interesting. I wrote about this life-altering move in a letter to my parents on Sep. 30, 1969 (mistakes are corrected, and references added): My studying this year is also a complete break with the past. I have gone into the Middle East business with totalness. First, the Arabic language course [with Wilson B. Bishai], then Medieval Islamic history [with Richard Bulliet], then an independent study on Medieval Islamic math [with John Engroff], and finally a seminar at the ill-fated [because just attacked by 20-30 “Weathermen” on Sep. 25] Center for International Affairs on “War and Peace in the Middle East” [with Amos Perlmutter]. In addition, my tutorial happens to be with a guy [John Entelis] who is specializing on the history of Arabic...(Read Full Article)
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