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The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (Bollingen) Paperback – Abridged, October 31, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


From review of Princeton's original edition: "[N. J. Dawood] has, by skillful abridgement and deft but unobtrusive editing, produced an attractive and manageable volume, which should make the essential ideas of Ibn Khaldûn accessible to a wide circle of readers."--Times Literary Supplement

From review of Princeton's original edition: "Undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place . . . the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs work that has been made anywhere."--Arnold J. Toynbee, Observer

Language Notes

Text: English, Arabic (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bollingen
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Abridged edition (October 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691120544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691120546
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Springfield on December 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to avoid overusing superlatives when thinking of or reviewing this work. 'Muqaddimah' means 'introduction'; this was ibn Khaldun's introduction to his volumes of world history. The introduction, however, is what has been entered into the library of the world's greatest written works. By those who read more than western books, he is called the father of sociology (westerners grant Weber that title). In addition to groundbreaking and still-relevant sociological ideas, his muqaddimah is filled with major contributions to political science as well. He includes his thoughts on the supposed 'state of nature' and goes on to describe the workings of civilizations, in Braudel's longue duree view.
The book is worth reading for two reasons. First, it is a historical monument -- the birthplace of many important ideas. Second, the ideas are still not common knowledge. His ideas provide a useful and accurate representation of the world, suitable (after adaptation to the time period) to examining Chingis Khan's empire or the position of the United States in global political and economic regime.
One caveat: I read the three-volume, unabridged version. This 300 page paperback version comprises only a small fraction of the complete (and compleat) work.
Another reviewer mentioned the dated scientific theories in this book. In a three-volume 'introduction' to a seven-volume (if memory serves) 'history of the world', ibn Khaldun covered a wide array of topics, including both the social and the natural sciences. The dated natural science is kept strictly seperate from the more lastingly-relevant social science; this makes it an easy job to seperate the wheat from the chaff.
Obviously, I HIGHLY recommend the Muqaddimah to anyone with an interest in political science, anthropology, sociology, or history.
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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
The English interpretation of Ibn Khaldun's historical works should be read by all those who wish to gain a better understanding into the currents that drive human civilization. The scholar's words, although they were written down over six hundred years ago, contain insights that are remarkable and wisdom that will provide the reader with a fresh outlook on the world around them.
The work deals with the various conditions that underly the rise, maintenence, maturity and decline of civilization and of the political entities that are created by people. The role of the "dynasty" (government) in the economy, the effect of taxation, the circulation of wealth, and other aspects of the political economy are set down in great detail.
Ibn Khaldun describes the stages that every civilization passes from the turmoil of the inception of political entities, through the stability of the "middle period," to the "senility" and decline. Where the pursuit of luxury and ease in a sociey dominates and results in the eventual death of the dynasty. His parallel of the life of a society and with the life of an individual is a thing that is thought provoking.
I hope more people will read this book and thereby experience the genius of Ibn Khaldun.
Sharif M. Sazzad
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Khaled Mahmoud Al Anani on February 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I first read this book as part of a history course, but I only appreciated it when I read it later at a slower pace (the first time was just some pre-exam cramming!). I like to use the analogy of ibn Khaldun being the Isaac Newton of social sciences since their contributions were similar in a way: they both took a very ordinary happenings that people take for granted everyday (the falling objects in Isaac Newton's case, everyday social life in ibn Khaldun's case), researched them and gave some marvellous findings. ibn Khaldun shows how societies and people group together to form communities, cities and eventually countries and nations. He shows through logical reasoning the relationship between social and economic circumstances within a society, plus many other fascinating findings that show that the medieval Arabs must have had some very organized researchers and thinkers. Definitely one of the best books ever written on social sciences.
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56 of 65 people found the following review helpful By J A W on July 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
You can chisel out the sections on temperature and race, temperature and behavior, for these are silly and offensive. He compares Sub-Saharan Africans as just a hair above dumb animals, and he slams Arabs and Bedouin in other ways. However, his sections on economics and social politics are still valid, and he was a pioneer in areas that other Westerners tend to get credit for.
Before Adam Smith outlined the need for "Specialized labor" in a commercial society, there was Ibn Khaldun. Khaldun wrote of the pivotal role of "crafts" and specialization of crafts in a functioning human society. He even suggests that skills in crafts are limited, that is, if you're a master shoe-maker you in all likelihood won't be a master farmer. Therefore, master shoe-makers should make as many shoes as they can and farmers should farm as they can, so as to produce as many goods between the two of them than if they shared their time doing both. Before there was Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises, Ibn Khaldun implied the need for Rule of Law. Khaldun chastized the Bedouin who disrupted the social order through their raids, and sent the craftsmen packing. Some sort of consistent legal standard and social order is needed to ensure that specialized labor has the ability to perform its "crafts". Before there was Reaganomics and Arthur Laffer, there was Ibn Khaldun. You want more tax revenue? Cut taxes, which provides incentive for people to work harder and expand their enterprises. More business, more economic growth, more tax revenue. High taxes deter enterprise and shrinks tax revenue. Arthur Laffer? Yes, but Ibn Khaldun 300+ years earlier.
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