The Treatment of the Middle East in American High School Textbooks

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VOL. 4


No. 3
P. 46
The Treatment of the Middle East in American High School Textbooks

A STUDY of the treatment of the Middle East in American textbooks can be quite revealing. The amount of space devoted to the subject may indicate in itself whether publishers, authors, and school administrators consider this area and its peoples worthy of substantial treatment or simply peripheral to the study of man's past and present. It obviously shows to some extent the degree to which popular Western prejudices and stereotypes are corrected or perpetuated by the schools. It can, furthermore, furnish us with a copy perhaps a somewhat less crude one - of such images.

This study is based on a careful investigation of twenty textbooks used in American junior and senior high schools, and listed in the bibliography at the end of this article. Books used for both world history and area studies classes are included.' Material relating to pre-Islamic history has been excluded. Since it is not possible to deal with every aspect of these books, I have chosen to concentrate on the extent of coverage and treatment of Islam, the contemporary Arabs, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Glenn Perry is Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University.