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The Arabs: A History Hardcover – November 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465071007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465071005
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Rogan, an Oxford University lecturer, comments that Western intellectuals and leaders have an inadequate grasp of how Arabs understand their own history, which generates many grievances. He accordingly offers this political history of Arab lands since 1517, the year the Ottoman Empire conquered Egypt, adopting as his theme the response of Arabs to foreign rule or influence. In succession, Rogan presents the imperial structures of the Ottomans, then those of colonizing European powers, and his discussion of their evolution is guided by narratives of the numerous revolts and wars that punctuated the era of colonization. With that era’s passing in the wake of World War II, leaving a legacy of boundaries drawn by the former empires, Rogan then focuses on the creation of Israel in 1948 as a point of protest for Arab leaders—though his accounts of intra-Arab wars and dictatorial governments underscore sources of conflict that have nothing to do with Israel. Framing modern history as viewed from the Arab world, Rogan eruditely furnishes Western readers with a background to current events. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Columbia University
"A masterful, thorough, and well-written survey of the entire sweep of modern Arab history. Full of lively vignettes but comprehensive at the same time, this book will be of great interest both to general readers and students of the Arab world.”

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan and author of Engaging the Muslim World
“No better guide to the modern history of the Arab world could be found than Eugene Rogan. He is attentive as much to the insider accounts in Arab memoirs as to the imperial schemes hatched in drawing rooms in Paris and London, as concerned with popular movements and uprisings as with elite reformism, and unafraid to confront directly and with the best evidence and documentation available the vexed issues of colonialism, Orientalism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Rogan achieves a rare, and realistic synoptic vision of the way in which Arabness has been shaped by both indigenous forces and Western imperial ones. In recent years, the United States has attempted to rule Arabs while carefully avoiding knowing anything about them, a strategy that has yielded all too predictable results. Those in the West who aspire to engage the Arab world in more productive ways in the future will find Rogan an indispensable companion.”

Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
“Eugene Rogan writes about the Middle East with exceptional empathy, wisdom, and insight. His book is a landmark in scholarship on this complex and controversial region. Western scholars have written extensively about the Middle East but mostly from the outside looking in. The Arabs often feature in their accounts as mere driftwood on the sea of international affairs. Rogan, by contrast, has narrated the history of the region over the last five centuries from the inside looking out. He tells the history of the Arabs from their own perspective, using an impressive range of Arabic sources. It is a fascinating story and in Eugene Rogan it has found its most gifted chronicler.”

Sir Alistair Horne, author of A Savage War of Peace
“Anyone who seeks to understand why the Islamic world bears a grudge against the West should read The Arabs. Few scholars know their subject better than Eugene Rogan, while even fewer are capable of rendering so complex a subject so engagingly readable. It is a joy to open, and a deprivation to put down.”

Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919 and Nixon and Mao
“With eloquence, verve, and understanding, Eugene Rogan rightly reminds us that the world, and the Arabs themselves, need to remember the past. If we are to build a better relationship between the Arab world and the West, if we are to avoid making the same mistakes again and again, we need to know Arab history from its many high points to its low ones. I can think of no better guide on this crucially important journey than The Arabs.”

Kirkus
“A straightforward, careful primer on Arab political history from the rise of the Ottoman Empire to the forging of modern fundamentalist Islamic entities…. A sweeping history.”

Booklist
“Framing modern history as viewed from the Arab world, Rogan eruditely furnishes Western readers with a background to current events.”

The Atlantic
“[Rogan] provides a prism through which the lay Westerner can view five centuries of tumult, zealotry, and complication…. Deeply erudite and distinctly humane, Rogan consistently plays up (and never papers over) the bountiful East-West parallels."

Stephen M. Walt, ForeignPolicy.com
“[A]n entertaining, gracefully written, and eye-opening look at a diverse people whose history, culture and character are often badly misunderstood (if not actively distorted) here in the United States. Read it. You’ll learn a lot.”

Simon Sebag Montefiore, for the Financial Times
“A rich, galloping narrative that spans the Arab world from Morocco to Yemen to Iraq… Rogan’s The Arabs: A History is an outstanding, gripping and exuberant narrative, full of flamboyant character sketches, witty asides and magisterial scholarship, that explains much of what we need to know about the world today.” 

The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“Very much a modern history… Rogan gives a lucid account of political developments throughout the Arab lands, unpicking messy tangles such as the Lebanese civil war or the fragmentation of Palestinian political movements.”

The Guardian (UK)
“The vivid narrative of The Arabs is… eloquent, and compulsively readable.”

The Economist
“[A] fascinating [story], and exceedingly well told…. What makes [Rogan’s] book particularly useful is the way it situates [the Arab-Israeli conflict] within the wider context of the Arabs’ long, and still unsuccessful, struggle to come to more equal terms with the West. Europeans in particular, and also Americans, need their memories jogged about just how arrogant, duplicitous and frequently stupid their governments have been in dealing with the Middle East…. [An] exemplary history.”

The Scotsman (UK)
“An incredibly ambitious book… wonderfully inclusive and articulate and knowledgeable, pretty much indispensable.”

The Times (UK)
“[The Arabs], which starts with the Ottoman Turks’ conquest of the Arab world in 1516-17, offers a strikingly vivid and authoritative account of its subsequent experience… [Rogan’s] rehearsal of recent Middle East history is impeccable.”

The Spectator
“Rogan’s brilliant book is clear-eyed and balanced. Mixing academic rigour with a lively narrative style, The Arabs: A History is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the background to the mess that the Arabs find themselves in.”

The Scotsman (UK)
"An incredibly ambitious book… wonderfully inclusive and articulate and knowledgeable, pretty much indispensable.”

The Times (UK)
“[The Arabs], which starts with the Ottoman Turks’ conquest of the Arab world in 1516-17, offers a strikingly vivid and authoritative account of its subsequent experience… [Rogan’s] rehearsal of recent Middle East history is impeccable.”

Dallas Morning News
“Rogan manages the somewhat staggering feat of outlining nearly 500 years of history in a way that is neither cursory nor overwhelming – and is based in the experiences of the people themselves…. [Rogan’s] ability to gather and synthesize such a wealth of information, showing both the humanity and malice present on all sides, while neither bowing to nor accepting conventional wisdom, is truly remarkable. It’s to be hoped that America’s decision makers get their hands on a copy of The Arabs – and take very good notes.”

Foreign Affairs
“Readable and reliable, this sweeping survey balances the unity of a coherent story with due attention to detail. As such, Rogan’s contribution belongs in the company of the earlier classics by Hitti and Hourani.”

The Times Literary Supplement
“[An] excellent book…. Eugene Rogan has written an authoritative and wide-ranging history.”

Middle East Policy Journal
“[A] perceptive narrative of the past 500 years of Arab history…. This is a book for the general reader with little or no detailed knowledge of the Arab world. The writing is fluid and avoids academic theorizing and jargon…. However, even specialists should find this book a valuable guide to major events across the Arab world from Iraq to Morocco over an extensive period of time.”


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Customer Reviews

It's a large book and it's written very well.
Star_Girl
If you want an easy to read understanding of the Arab world, I highly recommend The Arabs: A History.
Richard H. Elfers
Roegan's book is engaging through every chapter I have read thus far.
Charles J. Budde

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 129 people found the following review helpful By David N. Buckley on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If what you seek is a clear, succinct, yet detailed account of how "the Middle East" --including the Maghrib-- became what it is today, look no further. This is by far the best available account of the modern history of "the Arabs" and their worlds. (And, it IS necessary to stress the plural, "worlds." Language and religious convictions may be common threads among Arabs; but much else is diverse in ways that most of us have yet to fully appreciate).

Rogan writes in clear, accessible prose, and provides a coherent and engaging narrative. Teachers especially will find this volume helpful; but, the general reader too will find the main lines of Arab development (since 1516) covered in ways that both inform and illuminate. Despite the welter of books available on this subject area, none has the mastery of substance and the simple felicity of style necessary to meet the needs of today's deeply misinformed general audience. After Rogan, there is no longer any reason for us "westerners" to remain ignorant of the Arab past, and the Arabs' world. (Mainstream "News" commentators, please take note). If you want to know how it all began and why it has remained the single most barbaric "encounter" in "western" history, look no further. This is where all future students will begin their exploration of Arab history, and is the work to which they will most often turn in seeking to understand its main currents and conflicting personalities. Its perceptive analysis and insights no less than its narrative flow will provide food for thought for all who wish to learn.

---
OVERVIEW OF THE CONTENTS:

Despite its title, this book is less a history of "the Arabs" per se than of external attempts to govern them.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jo R. Gilbert on January 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, I met the author at an Oxford conference last year and was impressed by his knowledge of Arabs and the Middle East. Also his sense of humor. So when I saw his book listed, I promptly bought it. I'm still in the midst of reading it. But it is everything I expected. A readable history of the Arabs and the Muslim influences. Certainly, more up to date than Anthony Nutting's work of forty years ago and a companion to Mark Allen's Arabs. Starting in pre-Islamic days, through the Ottomans, the French and the Brits, and now into today's political scene, he thoroughly covers the Arab efforts to achieve self esteem. Well written; well researched. Highly recommended.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bookends on January 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent overview of the history of the Arab people and the events that manifested itself in the current situation in the Middle East. The stark truth may offend some people as can be seen in the orchestrated campaign of reviews to discredit the author. If you are seeking an objective overview of history of the Arab people, you will find it in this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By CbCb52 on July 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mr Rogan wrote a masterpiece . A History Schollar , writing as if he was telling a story.
In 500 pages , it starts with the Ottoman Empire , The Mamluk Challenge , The reshaping of the Empire , Colonial times , The creation of Israel and it's consequences , Arab Nationalism and it's contradictions , The power of Oil , and the power of Islam.
His very interesting way of writing , links decade to decade, century to century, and old events to new events , even if it means shifting from Starboard to Port.
Every new development was triggered by a previous development , and so the story goes .There are no loose ends .
Amusing and powerfull , it's an unvalluable source of information .
It seems to me that Rogan is a little Arab biased ; Nevertheless , he makes you
THINK about the nature of the Arab mind , the whole uncomprehensive ( to us Westerners ) , suicide bombings and the origins of the Islamic Theocratic State and
society . It's in my Top Ten List.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David MacCallum on March 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Never has there been a more necessary time to understand the history of one of the world's great people, the Arabs, than now. The troubled state of the Middle East, so visible on the front page of every newspaper in the world, is not a lonely era in the long history of the Arabs. Quite the contrary; the Arab world has been long governed and occupied by foreign powers. First, Turkey for centuries ran most of the major countries in the Middle East and then faded from power during the late 19th century, only to be replaced by the British and French. These European powers, accustomed to the organization of their colonies, were ultimately spectacularly unsuccessful in restraining the rapid development of the national states in the Middle East during the 1940's and 1950's. The Arabs tells this story with a wonderful sense of pace and shifting momentum; this reader was swept along at an increasing pace as the book neared the present, even more dangerous, time.

I found the complexity of the Arab world, with all the strangeness of its magnificent language, to be initially confusing but Professor Rogan helps us along our way through a dense and, to this reader, totally new subject. As the book nears the present day, it becomes more absorbing and urgent. The final section of this very useful book consists of a full discussion of the emergence of the Israeli state and its increasing confrontation with the Arab nations that surround it. The force of the Israeli confrontation grows as the new Jewish state becomes increasingly powerful and self-assured.
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