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Middle East Guide Published, and Other Professorial Works

October 19th, 2009

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Dr. David Aikman in the classroom at PHC

Standing in a patch of bombed-out Lebanon in 2007, surveying the wreckage around him, Dr. David Aikman pulled out a video camera to record the damage left by Israelis during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War. Within 30 seconds, a young man materialized at his elbow. In polite, friendly English, he asked Aikman who he was and what he was doing.

“Ultimately, this Hezbollah agent let me keep my camera,” shares Dr. Aikman. “Once he was assured that I was a college professor, not a member of the CIA or the Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency), he eased up.”

Over the years as senior and foreign correspondent for TIME magazine, Dr. Aikman has accumulated a significant number of similarly colorful anecdotes along with an unparalleled stock of firsthand knowledge of the Middle East, about which he has published several fiction and non-fiction books.

On that particular visit to Lebanon, for instance, he gathered anecdotes and content galore for his latest book, freshly released in August—The Mirage of Peace: Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict in the Middle East. It is a book, he says, that serves as “probably the most comprehensive general introduction to all countries of the Middle East.”

The publisher, Regal, approached Dr. Aikman specifically requesting that he research and write Mirage, since no other book of its kind and scope existed—to inform average citizens about a complex area of the world that daily impacts their lives.

Dr. David Aikman's new book

“Average citizens desperately need to know what is going on in an area of the world that is perennially in turmoil,” explains Dr. Aikman.

As Professor of History and Writer in Residence at Patrick Henry College, Dr. Aikman regularly teaches classes on the History of Islam and the Modern Middle East. With a background that includes 23 years writing about the Middle East, Russia, and China for TIME magazine, Aikman was intimately familiar not only with most of the texts in the genre but the need for his own book.

“My hope is that, if a company assigns people to one of these [Middle East] countries, and they ask where to find an introduction to the area, their boss will direct them to my book,” Dr. Aikman states.

Mirage contains chapters on the Middle East in general, Israel and the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia and beyond. This is the book for all people who want to get a handle on what is really happening in the world.

“[Dr. Aikman’s] analysis makes a genuine contribution to our understanding of the political, cultural, and religious conflict in that troubled part of the world that is nevertheless the site of God’s greatest revelations,” says PHC Provost Dr. Gene Edward Veith.

Other PHC Profs Publishing

In addition to Dr. Aikman’s newest publication, other professors have also made notable academic contributions in the last several months as well.

  • PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris gave the 2009 James Madison Lecture, “From Tyndale to Madison,” at the James Madison Museum in Orange, Virginia. Dr. Farris spoke on the contributions Madison made to religious freedom and on the relevance of his work today, drawing from Dr. Farris’s recent book with the same title. Dr. Farris has also written numerous essays and commentaries about the threat to U.S. sovereignty posed by the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), including two for WordNetDaily.com: article on Bangladesh; article on Cuba.
  • The September issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity features two contributions from PHC faculty. Dr. Mark Mitchell’s article, “Education Normal,” discusses the question of whether homeschooled kids receive an education that allows them to grow up “normal.” His article is available online. Dr. Les Sillars’s book review, “Durable Divinity,” analyzes a new book by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. This review is unavailable online.
  • WorldNetDaily published a column by Dr. Stephen Baskerville, Associate Professor of Government, on a sex education mandate developed by UNESCO, an agency of the United Nations. Read “Molested by the State” here.
  • Former White House speechwriter Robert Patterson, an Adjunct Professor of Government who teaches the “Speechwriting” course at PHC, published an article entitled “Marriage: What Matters” for National Review Online. He argues that it is impossible to separate economic conservatism from social conservatism and suggests how Republicans should deal with the issue of gay marriage as part of a larger, pro-marriage agenda. Prof. Patterson also serves as editor of The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy.
  • Along with two conference papers that will soon be published in a new book, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery had two of his other books reprinted. The first, La Mort de Dieu (in a reprint edition), serves as an apologetic in French against the “new atheism.” The second, Wohin marschiert China? (in a second edition), is a German volume that analyzes the Chinese political climate religiously, arguing that the traditional religions of China (folk religion, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism) lack the ability to defend human rights—unlike historic Christianity, which constitutes the only answer to totalitarianism.