I have a keen interest in history. As such, when I wanted to start making real sense of how the middle east and central asia came to be what they are today, I started doing my own research. I didn't read them in this order, but this is a start;
"Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" by Jack Weatherford. Covers up to the 1500s, and will blow your mind about the true working of the Khanate and what influences they had even into modern times.
"The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia" by Peter Hopkirk
This one covers the neo-european influences in the area from the Napoleonic era towards the end of Imperial Russia. A great long book (524 pages) but worth the read, every page of it.
Now, I need something to fill in the gap. Weatherford's book stays on scope and doesn't cover what happened to the smaller nations that sprung up amongst tribes from the 1500's onwards, and Hopkirk's has a little forwards that covers it a bit but then starts with Napoleon's conquest of Europe. So I've got about 200 years worth of central asia missing, which may be the most important of all. Unfortunately I get the feeling that scholarly work on the matter is going to be very limited in focus... I'm not going to find a single book that'll describe the rise of the Ottomans, Persia, the Moghul period, etc.
But, that's all OK for now. I usually change subjects after finishing a book and I think I'm going to dive into some "medical" thriller nonfiction for a change. After that I think I'm going to find a good horror writer, maybe grab another Turtledove book, read some engineering texts, etc.