The Arabs: A History 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 216 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0465071005
ISBN-10: 0465071007
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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


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.”

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 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.”

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.”

“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.”

“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,
“[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.”

Product details

  • Grade Level : 11 and up
  • Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
  • Hardcover : 592 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0465071007
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0465071005
  • Product Dimensions : 6.13 x 1.94 x 9.25 inches
  • Publisher : Basic Books; 1st Edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Reading level : 18 and up
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 216 ratings
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