Why did the Middle East, a region that once outstripped Europe in economic development, fall so far behind after the mid-fifteenth century? If this type of broad historical question intrigues you, Issawi’s collection of previously published essays will be a delight. Gracefully written, filled with historical insight, and accompanied by fine photographs, these chapters are a pleasure to read. The most contemporary deal with the adaptation of Islam to economic realities, the oil crisis of 1973, and a revealing comparison of the Balkans and the Middle East. Of particular interest is the author’s explanation for the change in standing among Egypt, Iran, and Turkey over the past two centuries.