Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright. I'm not exactly sure why I requested this book, but I'm very glad I did.
Subtitled The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East, this traces the Middle East conflict back to where it began: with Abraham and his family.
The book is incredibly readable (I feared it would be hard to follow, much less understand) and Wright bounces around through history in each chapter... but it just makes so much sense, it doesn't feel choppy at all.
One thing I have really grown to love about history is the inter-connectedness of events, people, choices... and this book is completely fascinating to me because Wright does a great job of showing that as well.
The first section of the book (about half) is going through the historical foundations of the Middle East conflict, organized around the Biblical accounts, but bringing in lots of information from more modern history as well.
The second section of the book (about 1/3) is split into three chapters, talking about the Middle East from a Jewish perspective, an Islamic perspective, and a Christian perspective.
The remainder of the book includes a timeline, glossary and a discussion guide.
I could not put this book down. I should be sleeping, I'll pay for it tomorrow (uhhh, I mean today). But once I started, I could not stop.