Picks and Pans Review: BOOKS ON THE MIDDLE EAST

updated 08/07/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/2006 01:00AM

NOT JUST FOR NEWS JUNKIES

With the region in chaos, all manner of readers (see: Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban) are turning to books to put the Middle East's intricate politics in perspective. PEOPLE's go-to reads:

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman: One-stop shopping: In a bestselling memoir about his decade in the Middle East, the New York Times columnist focuses on both people and politics. The conflict becomes an engrossing family feud writ large.
No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan: A brilliant portrait of the faith by a media-friendly religious scholar with a novelist's eye.
Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard: For Crossfire and debate-team types, stats and charts galore.
Understanding the Holy Land by Mitch Frank: Written for young adults by a former TIME reporter, it's perfect for those who want to keep it short (152 pages).
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict: Clueless and crave a reader-friendly source? This info-packed tome covers the basics in quick bites.

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