NPR: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. In her new book, journalist Kim Ghattas asked the question she says haunts her and most people in the Arab and Muslim world - what happened to us?

Ghattas is Lebanese and grew up during her country's civil war. For people in the Middle East, she says, the past is a different country, one that is not mired in the horrors of sectarian killings, a more vibrant place without the crushing intolerance of religious zealots and seemingly endless wars. Her new book is a history of how the Middle East unraveled in the past few decades. It's called "Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, And The Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, And Collective Memory In The Middle East."

She covered the Middle East for the BBC and The Financial Times for 20 years and is now a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. She divides her time between Washington and Beirut.