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119 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Introduction to the Middle East
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;...
Published on November 10, 2009 by David N. Buckley

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37 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but flawed
First off, for such a complex subject, The Arabs is a very easy read. Rogan certainly has a deft touch in crafting a narrative that proceeds apace, while offering up vignettes that embody the most important moments of the period. You will however, easily find more comprehensive detail on Wikipedia than here, and I'm sorry to say, it would probably be less biased...
Published on February 15, 2010 by Damocles


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119 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Introduction to the Middle East, November 10, 2009
This review is from: The Arabs: A History (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.

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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. For the Arabs themselves, we have Hourani's masterful work A History of the Arab Peoples: Second Edition -- and it comes as no surprise that Rogan's work drinks from the same deep well of scholarship and insight (see page 499-500 for details). However, if Hourani gave us a view of the Arab world from the inside, as it were, this is the same story ... but from the outside. Rogan's prespective is that the modern history of the Arabs is, essentially, the story of external attempts to dominate and govern them. So, starting with the Ottoman victory over the Egyptian Mamluks in 1516, his first five chapters --about one third of the book-- deal with the main trends of Ottoman overlordship, down to the debacle of World War One. The next four chapters (six through nine) deal in considerable detail with the disastrous consequences of Anglo-French imperial self-aggrandizement from 1915 to 1945. (American readers may be pleasantly surprised to learn how positive was the Arab view of American international involvement in 1919. Then they were a positive counterweight to European rapacity. Now, of course, they've changed colors, and are the proverbial fox-in-the-henhouse). Chapter Nine on "The Palestine Disaster and its Consequences," is a masterpiece of concision and erudition, and on its own will more than repay the reader's investment in this book. The outsiders view of Israel (which is the one most of us have) will seem decidedly less rosy and congenial once seen in the real context of broader Arab concerns and indigenous contemporary developments. Chapters 10 and 11 deal with the "Rise" and "Decline" (respectively) of Arab nationalism between 1950 and 1970, using Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser as the yardstick of Cold War "superpower" involvement in Arab affairs. Chapters 12 through 14 bring the story from the "oil shock" of 1973 down to the present day, and show how remarkably short --and ghastly, in human terms-- has been the "western" journey from European arrogance to American hegemony. That all parties to the deepening conflict have been remarkably uninformed and self-centered may come as no surprise, but the true cost of such ignorance should horrify the reader.

To cover so much ground in less than 500 pages is an achievement in itself. To do so with such clarity and elan is nothing short of genius. (Keep in mind that almost half the book is given over to events since WWI).

I sincerely hope Mr Rogan will consider making this into a video history so it can reach a wider audience. (If nothing else, such a project would teach us how to pronounce unfamiliar names ... and perhaps even make them household words!)
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle East History plus!, January 21, 2010
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This review is from: The Arabs: A History (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb historical overview, January 13, 2010
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Bookends (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: THE ARABS A History (Hardcover)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history writing, March 28, 2011
I had already been through Houranis book on arabic history, ecellent but a bit overwhelming in its attention to detail.
I find Roghan's book even better. The way he manges to go into details and at the same time keeping the overview is extremely well done. Also the way he manages to keep a balanced view of and shet light on more recent developments is very well done. I am saying this last bit to keep balance versus some reviewers claiming the opposite. In fact I wrote my very short reviw because I got frustrated reading these orher reviews.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory Reading - A Must, July 3, 2010
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CbCb52 (Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Arabs: A History (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
4.0 out of 5 stars A difficult subject made easier, March 13, 2010
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This review is from: The Arabs: A History (Hardcover)
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. There is no way to escape the fact that this discussion, such an important part of the book, can be viewed as slanted, either from the Israeli point of view, mindful of the basic reason for the establishment of this remarkable nation: to provide a secure haven for the hunted Jews of Europe in the heart of Judaism's earliest history, or from the Arab point of view, with the wrenching loss of much of the lands that were called Palestine for the past two millenia.

One reads of this conflict with a sense of sorrow for both sides. Nevertheless, the resolution will probably have something to do with the renaissance of Arab learning, industry, charm and intelligence. These are strong societies; their contributions to the knowledge of the world has been extraordinary and it can happen again.

I liked this book enormously. It tells of the history of a great people and informs about the present state of affairs in the context of the longest view. It is, in the end, a book of hope.
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26 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, December 1, 2009
This review is from: The Arabs: A History (Hardcover)
This is one of the most detailed and extensive accounts of the Arab history of the past four hundred years. The author brilliantly links a long series of seemingly unrelated events to frame and analyze contemporary Arab psychology. The book is written a scholarly style and is a must read for anyone seeking a better understanding of current Middle Eastern affairs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great backgrond for the current situation of the Middle East, November 4, 2011
This review is from: The Arabs: A History (Paperback)
Provided that you want to understand the historical background for the current political situation in the Middle East and Arab world, this book is a very good choice. I have read it following the Arab spring, as it has provided me with very valuable background information and source of questions. There has been several uprisings in Egypt. What makes this one different? Excluding Libya, the countries where we have witnessed revolutions are poor, agriculture economies with a lďmited military backing from the geopolitical players. Why? Rogan can give you an introduction to why they are poor and how they have ended up with limited backing.

Because Rogan has written a book about the political situation in the Middle East and not really a history about the Arabs, it is a mistake to include so little about Iran. What is included is some basic info about Iran's role of the Islamic revival in the Arabic world from the 80s and the negative impacts that the USs terrible mistakes with its relations to Iran has had to the whole Region. Both of them could be covered in more depth. The important role that Iran plays in Syria also needs to be covered. Turkey is another important country in any book about the current political situation in the Middle East. On the other hand the Ottoman period has a rather limited importance to understand the current political situation, more than 100 pages about the subject is hardly necessary. The book would become even better with a more throughout coverage of Saudi-Arabia. And what happened to the Chapter about the Kurds?

Some comments to the other reviews about this book. Those who claim this is a book about the historical background for the current situation in The Middle East and the Arab world and not a book about the Arabs is in essence right. It is neither true that 1/3 of the book is about the Israel-Palestina conflict or that Rogan has any Anti-Israeli agenda.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great readable History of the Arabs in the modern era, June 6, 2010
This review is from: The Arabs: A History (Hardcover)
This is an excellent history of the Arabs in the modern age. Rogan, who teaches Modern History of the Middle East at the University of Oxford, is able to read both Arabic and Turkish. His book therefore cites a lot of Arabic and Turkish writings to present a history of the Arabs from Arab sources.

The history here begins with the Ottoman's defeat of the Mamluks in 1516 and ends in the year 2007. He charts the evolution of Arab identity from Ottomanism to Arabism to Islamism. Present day Islamists argue that the Arabs were strong and all-powerful when they adhered most closely to their Muslim faith. This is one of the main reasons for the resurgence of Muslim movements worldwide.

Rogan writes well. His presentation and analysis are excellent. He has taken a fair and balance stand on many polemic issues. I would highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and informative, August 11, 2013
This review is from: The Arabs: A History (Paperback)
Rogan does a brilliant job of covering the history of the Middle East from the period of Ottoman rule to the present day. In particular his analysis of the Isralei Palestinian conflict is spot on. After studying the conflict extensively I can confidently say he offers a refreshingly accurate and unbiased account. A highly recommended read for anyone interested in learning about an often misunderstood region.
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The Arabs: A History
The Arabs: A History by Eugene L. Rogan (Paperback - April 12, 2011)
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