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Part 1: The Giant Awakens

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen on America's massive military build-up to the first Gulf war, as he begins a personal history of the Middle East, told over 25 episodes.

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen on America's dramatic intervention in the region during the massive military build-up to the first Gulf War. "Watching it happen I had the feeling that a great military giant, chastened since its defeat in Asia 15 years before, was shaking itself, and waking up to fight again," he says.

Over these 25 programmes, Jeremy reflects on the present and the past of the Middle East, after reporting from the region for more than a quarter of a century. He combines first-hand accounts from the front line with an in-depth look into the region's history. He has witnessed endless wars between individuals, religious groups and full-sized states, jostling for military, political and economic power. He has interviewed dictators, fanatics and fundamentalists as well as the ordinary people caught up in their dangerous games. In that time, the past has always been present, providing motivation and political ammunition . Bowen has made headlines himself and he has paid a personal price, coming under fire and losing a colleague in the course of reporting - on the worst day, he says, in his life.

Producers: Mark Savage and Cara Swift.

15 minutes

Broadcast

Jeremy Bowen's Middle Eastern food quiz

Jeremy Bowen's Middle Eastern food quiz

Test your knowledge of the region and its cuisine.

The three most significant foreign interventions in the Middle East

The three most significant foreign interventions in the Middle East

By Jeremy Bowen

Podcast