Hot Best Seller

The Arabs: A History

Availability: Ready to download

To American observers, the Arab world often seems little more than a distant battleground characterized by religious zealotry and political chaos. Years of tone-deaf US policies have left the region powerless to control its own destiny—playing into a longstanding sense of shame and impotence for a once-mighty people. In this definitive account, preeminent historian Eugene To American observers, the Arab world often seems little more than a distant battleground characterized by religious zealotry and political chaos. Years of tone-deaf US policies have left the region powerless to control its own destiny—playing into a longstanding sense of shame and impotence for a once-mighty people. In this definitive account, preeminent historian Eugene Rogan traces five centuries of Arab history, from the Ottoman conquests through the British and French colonial periods and up to the present age of unipolar American hegemony. The Arab world is now more acutely aware than ever of its own vulnerability, and this sense of subjection carries with it vast geopolitical consequences. Drawing from Arab sources little known to Western readers, Rogan's The Arabs will transform our understanding of the past, present, and future of one of the world's most tumultuous regions.


Compare

To American observers, the Arab world often seems little more than a distant battleground characterized by religious zealotry and political chaos. Years of tone-deaf US policies have left the region powerless to control its own destiny—playing into a longstanding sense of shame and impotence for a once-mighty people. In this definitive account, preeminent historian Eugene To American observers, the Arab world often seems little more than a distant battleground characterized by religious zealotry and political chaos. Years of tone-deaf US policies have left the region powerless to control its own destiny—playing into a longstanding sense of shame and impotence for a once-mighty people. In this definitive account, preeminent historian Eugene Rogan traces five centuries of Arab history, from the Ottoman conquests through the British and French colonial periods and up to the present age of unipolar American hegemony. The Arab world is now more acutely aware than ever of its own vulnerability, and this sense of subjection carries with it vast geopolitical consequences. Drawing from Arab sources little known to Western readers, Rogan's The Arabs will transform our understanding of the past, present, and future of one of the world's most tumultuous regions.

30 review for The Arabs: A History

  1. 5 out of 5

    ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos) In Lockdown

    March 22, 2016 - I put a great deal of effort into writing a comprehensive and, what I believed to be a relatively apolitical review of Eugene Rogan's history, The Arabs: A History. I completed it last evening with the intention of posting it today. Today is a day of mass murder in Brussels a city that I have come to know. I shall not post that review. It would be both too trite and too political. No one needs that. I can only add to what I wrote below that Rogan has written a history that is cl March 22, 2016 - I put a great deal of effort into writing a comprehensive and, what I believed to be a relatively apolitical review of Eugene Rogan's history, The Arabs: A History. I completed it last evening with the intention of posting it today. Today is a day of mass murder in Brussels a city that I have come to know. I shall not post that review. It would be both too trite and too political. No one needs that. I can only add to what I wrote below that Rogan has written a history that is clearly meant to dispel many of the myths, the propaganda and the prejudices that exist in the Western countries in regard to the Arab world. He has done an excellent job. He, like all historians has had to be selective in choosing his material. However, he has tried to be balanced. As noted earlier, there are no simple divisions between good guys and bad guys- only bad guys and victims. If you want more in-depth understanding of why the horror goes on, read this book. It is worth the time and effort. It is time that the West stopped treating Arabs as 'other'. See how we have created this mess over many decades. A book worth reading. If you can, help the Syrian refugees. If your government does not facilitate this, as mine does, donate to the UNHCR. They do good things and they need money. Feb 12, 2016 - This is an excellent, comprehensive history of the Arab 'nation' from the assertion of Turkish rule in 1516 up to (almost) today. It is detailed and extremely well written. A more expansive review will follow shortly. I just want to say now that if you want a better understanding of why the Arab world is so messed up, so violent, so frustrating, look up the words colonialism, greed and power and consider the role played by the outside world in just plain messing things up. Then buy the book and take your time absorbing its history and its lessons.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A biased, selective, and misleading history of the middle east conflict. He paints the Arab people as almost entirely victims of western domination and leaves them with hardly any responsibility for their own failings. One of the longest sections in the book dealt with the Israeli-Arab conflict omits the following enormously important facts: 1. While Rogan slams Israel for the "eviction" of Palestinians in 1948 (which in reality was Arab governments telling all Palestinians to leave because of th A biased, selective, and misleading history of the middle east conflict. He paints the Arab people as almost entirely victims of western domination and leaves them with hardly any responsibility for their own failings. One of the longest sections in the book dealt with the Israeli-Arab conflict omits the following enormously important facts: 1. While Rogan slams Israel for the "eviction" of Palestinians in 1948 (which in reality was Arab governments telling all Palestinians to leave because of their impending offensive against Israel) - he says nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were evicted from Arab lands at the same time. 2. He portrays the Jewish purchase of land as something that was imposed on the Arab people against their will. In reality, the Arabs were glad to sell the land in modern day Israel to the Jews - at extremely exorbitant prices. This has been documented in history. 3. Painting Arafat as a freedom fighter for the Palestinian people, he omits his over support for violence against Israeli civilians, his support for suicide bombers, and his infamous public murder of a 65 year old unarmed Jewish man in a wheelchair in a naval standoff. 4. Speaking of the Oslo Accords - he makes no mention of the concessions the Palestinians promised to make, only noting that they were substantial. If he HAD mentioned the concessions the Palestinians were to make (such as stemming the spread of terror organizations and halting the indoctrination of children in Gaza with violent religious fundamentalism), he would have been forced to note that the Palestinians failed miserably in this regard. 5. Dismissing the United States' and Israel's claim that Arafat was responsible for the failure of the negotiations at Camp David - without any evidence - he completely ignores the fact that Ehud Barak offered him 98% of the land he was requesting and he turned it down. Rogan doesn't offer any evidence for his claims, because there is none. 6. Disparaging the Israeli war against Hizbullah in 2006 as barbaric for launching attacks on civilian infrastructure, Rogan completely omits the fact that Hizbullah deliberately positioned themselves in highly populated areas to inflict the most casualties on the Lebanese population to gain international support (as Hamas did in Gaza in 2009). He didn't even bother to address it - it was omitted completely. These are 6 of the most stunning omissions from his novel but there are many many more. If you want a one sided account of Arab history then purchase this book - but make sure you also consult a history of the Arabs that isn't so biased and remarkably selective in its portrayal of history in the Middle East.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caroline-not-getting-updates

    An outstanding history of Arab lands from about 1600 through 2013. It is composed of three main parts: the early modern history of the region and the slow disintegration of the Ottoman empire; the infiltration, rule and ouster of European colonialists; and the post-colonial history of the region from Iraq to Morocco. The Palestinian issue and the civil war in Lebanon are related in depth. The mastery and selection of detail, its organization, and its analysis are models for similar sweeping hist An outstanding history of Arab lands from about 1600 through 2013. It is composed of three main parts: the early modern history of the region and the slow disintegration of the Ottoman empire; the infiltration, rule and ouster of European colonialists; and the post-colonial history of the region from Iraq to Morocco. The Palestinian issue and the civil war in Lebanon are related in depth. The mastery and selection of detail, its organization, and its analysis are models for similar sweeping histories. I learned a tremendous amount. I particularly want to commend Rogen for his consistent and extensive use of the observations of Arab women. In fact, I’m not sure I can remember any quotes from male journalists, that’s how dominant the women’s voices are. Belying the reputed invisibility of women in these countries, Rogen shows that they have been critical in many countries as supporters of resistance fights against imperialist powers, as journalists, as novelists, as medical and other support personnel for struggles, and as bodies on the line. A couple of the names were already familiar to me (Hanan Ashrawi and Nawal El Saadawi) but most were new. Rogen never makes mentions the fact that he’s quoting women as such; he just does it, the way authors have just quoted men for millennia. One takeaway that I already knew: the United States conducted its post-2001 policy with utter ignorance and disregard for Arab history, dignity and culture. (And its pre-2001 policy with not much more.) Others, previously known but now buttressed with more facts: the behaviour of colonial powers beggars belief, and the Arab peoples deserve better governments than they have, for the most part. Highly recommended (I listened to a Tantor Media recording, with excellent narration by Derek Perkins).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Moe

    It amazed me how little of this I knew prior to reading Eugene's book despite being Arab born and raised in an Arab country. In addition to the extreme censorship occurring in many Muslim and Arab nations, I was born in the mid 1990's. Meaning my curious teenage years were the same years the influence of American media was at its strongest. I grew up playing video games and watching American TV distracting myself from the real world. Unfortunately, like many of my friends and Arabs my age, our f It amazed me how little of this I knew prior to reading Eugene's book despite being Arab born and raised in an Arab country. In addition to the extreme censorship occurring in many Muslim and Arab nations, I was born in the mid 1990's. Meaning my curious teenage years were the same years the influence of American media was at its strongest. I grew up playing video games and watching American TV distracting myself from the real world. Unfortunately, like many of my friends and Arabs my age, our families thought it would be more beneficial for us to be enrolled to English-teaching schools, be sent abroad and forget about the past than the less beneficial duty of learning about the history of our origin. We are ignorant. Like many westerners, reading the news of extremist Islamist agenda and suicide bombers consistently baffled me. I never understood it. I never understood how a group like Da'esh could manifest and be the global issue it is now. Rogan's The Arabs answered many existing and non-exisintg questions that I have had regarding my people's history, and the identity attached to my name, physical appearance and the religious beliefs in which I was raised by. I look forward to both having all my Arab friends read this, and re-read this book in Arabic soon. Thank you, Mr. Rogan.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Narmin

    Before reading 'The Arabs' I thought it might be another classy book (and classical view) of the arab people. But this book soared beyond my expectations. It is the Arab identity that base the essential topics and unlike other books on Middle East region, this explains the development of the Arab mind throughout a whole century (from the Ottoman conquest to the making of islamic movements). I can't utter any critical word against this book. Read it, people! Before reading 'The Arabs' I thought it might be another classy book (and classical view) of the arab people. But this book soared beyond my expectations. It is the Arab identity that base the essential topics and unlike other books on Middle East region, this explains the development of the Arab mind throughout a whole century (from the Ottoman conquest to the making of islamic movements). I can't utter any critical word against this book. Read it, people!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gibson

    An excellent history. Well written. The current situation in the Arab world is so complex that when you get through with this book you still won't have the answers but you should at least have a better understanding of the questions. My favorite quote from the book: "Democracy cannot be imposed without the messenger killing the message." I might add that so far, too many messengers, on all sides, killing each other as well as their own message. An excellent history. Well written. The current situation in the Arab world is so complex that when you get through with this book you still won't have the answers but you should at least have a better understanding of the questions. My favorite quote from the book: "Democracy cannot be imposed without the messenger killing the message." I might add that so far, too many messengers, on all sides, killing each other as well as their own message.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    With all the conflicts going on in the Middle East, it can be easy for us Americans to listen only to Western and Israeli voices and completely ignore the voices of millions of Arabs who are more deeply affected by the consequences of war, terrorism, and despotism. In this great work of history, Mr. Rogan gives those millions of voices a chance to speak to us. Starting with the conquests of the Arab lands by the Ottoman Turks in the 1500s, Mr. Rogan charts over 500 years of Arab aspirations to b With all the conflicts going on in the Middle East, it can be easy for us Americans to listen only to Western and Israeli voices and completely ignore the voices of millions of Arabs who are more deeply affected by the consequences of war, terrorism, and despotism. In this great work of history, Mr. Rogan gives those millions of voices a chance to speak to us. Starting with the conquests of the Arab lands by the Ottoman Turks in the 1500s, Mr. Rogan charts over 500 years of Arab aspirations to be free from foreign occupation and intervention. By doing so, it puts the modern conflicts we see with ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the seemingly never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their historical context. After reading this, you may just walk away thinking that not all Arab grievances against Israel and the West are unfounded. One other great thing that Mr. Rogan does is point out the role that women have played in the region through the occasional aside throughout this book. Since women in the Arab world conjure up images of burqa-clad oppression in most Western minds, these asides are just as critical to shattering some of our notions about the Arab world as anything else Mr. Rogan writes about. But for an author who, in his introduction to this book, says he was drawn to the region by its diversity, this book sticks to a very political/military reading of Arab history. There are some mentions of certain movements, like Wahhabism in the Arabian peninsula, but they are usually tied to the political history of the region. Thus, many of you who are not as attracted to tales of political and military battles may not find this book as interesting. Another note is that the edition I read was published in 2009, so there is practically nothing about the Arab Spring, the death of Osama Bin Ladin, or the rise of ISIS. I do know that in a later edition Mr. Rogan has added an afterword about the Arab Spring, so I would recommend you look for that edition to get closer to the present day. Still, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about the region and gaining a better understanding of their grievances and worldview.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kartik

    I read this immediately after Rogan's book The Fall Of The Ottomans to get a better perspective on the MENA region. This book is ambitious in scope but falls short of expectations in that aspect. However, it still makes for an interesting read, albeit one focused heavily on the modern Arab World as opposed to the Arab world throughout history. The book starts with the brutal Ottoman conquest of Mamluk Egypt, in the 16th century, glossing over the Golden Age of the Arab World, and the cultural and I read this immediately after Rogan's book The Fall Of The Ottomans to get a better perspective on the MENA region. This book is ambitious in scope but falls short of expectations in that aspect. However, it still makes for an interesting read, albeit one focused heavily on the modern Arab World as opposed to the Arab world throughout history. The book starts with the brutal Ottoman conquest of Mamluk Egypt, in the 16th century, glossing over the Golden Age of the Arab World, and the cultural and ethno-linguistic process of Arabization that made it 'Arab' in the first place. I felt like the book lacked something crucial by omitting these things. The first part was focused on Egypt and the Levant, and went by quickly enough. However, there wasn't much said about other the other Arab regions, like the Maghreb. Soon enough, I found my interest flagging (towards the middle), when the book discusses the colonization of Egypt and the Levant. It felt like the author was sacrificing depth for length and speed. However, the second part of the book, from the post WWI era onwards changed all that. It begins with the tumultuous shockwaves in Arab societies caused by nationalism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It was very detailed, and well written, with focus on the various Arab peoples. This section more than made up for the slow read that preceded it. Rogan ties up the various roots of the issues that plague the MENA region so as to present a comprehensive picture of why things are the way they are now, and what they were like before. I have a feeling this book would have been even better as an anthology of three or so parts, given Rogan's expert knowledge on the Middle East.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Roberto Macias

    This was my second attempt to read into Arab history. While it did take some time, it is a most enjoyable read, and one that gets hard to put down. If you are looking for to learn about the region this is certainly a book that will compel you to finish it. Now on to the contents. Some reviewers have commented that it is one sided and pictures the Arabs world as victim. I disagree, there's certainly not the usual judgmental perspective, but the author is pretty objective on what he's saying. He al This was my second attempt to read into Arab history. While it did take some time, it is a most enjoyable read, and one that gets hard to put down. If you are looking for to learn about the region this is certainly a book that will compel you to finish it. Now on to the contents. Some reviewers have commented that it is one sided and pictures the Arabs world as victim. I disagree, there's certainly not the usual judgmental perspective, but the author is pretty objective on what he's saying. He also never justifies the actions of terrorists, but most of us know a rather incomplete version of the history. That is the one biased, this book just gives a more complete perspective of the region. It allowed me to place the Arab countries in the international context and understand how the Arab world, once the region that promoted science, and preserved the works of Aristotle, Plato and others such that western Renaissance could happen, could become so entrenched in a backward and extremist version of Islam. It also allowed me to better place the Arab Spring in the historical context and understand the challenges those countries now face to implement more just regimes. The relevance of the Arab region in History and our future cannot be denied, and the importance of understanding their history cannot be understated. This makes this book a must read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I'm not entirely sure why I decided to read another survey of Middle East history book so soon after finishing the first one, but I finished it anyway. At least it helped to solidify events in my memory more, considering that while reading this I was starting to realize how much I'd already forgotten from the last book and it's only been two weeks. So yes, reviewing material after you've read it is helpful if you actually want to retain anything. [and the sky is blue.] As the title suggests, the I'm not entirely sure why I decided to read another survey of Middle East history book so soon after finishing the first one, but I finished it anyway. At least it helped to solidify events in my memory more, considering that while reading this I was starting to realize how much I'd already forgotten from the last book and it's only been two weeks. So yes, reviewing material after you've read it is helpful if you actually want to retain anything. [and the sky is blue.] As the title suggests, the emphasis in this book is on the history of the Arab peoples, which means that unlike other Middle East history books, Turkey and Iran aren't really covered much (aside from their influence on the Arab nations) because their peoples aren't really Arab themselves, despite having a significant Muslim presence and being so close by. Instead, you get plenty more coverage of the North African Arab nations west of Egypt: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, and it was great to be able to fill in the picture from those perspectives. The emphasis here is more on modern history approaching 20th century also, although this time there isn't a book subtitle to make that clear. The main thing that differentiates this from a standard non-fiction history textbook is that it comes with more vivid descriptions and details of events, often quoted directly from people who experienced them firsthand. It's great to have if you like hearing things firsthand ala documentary style. While it does make it a bit harder to recall the big picture sometimes, there's usually enough context and explanation provided to allow you to discern things at that level. But anyway, the details are the main thing that drew me to this book after finishing the last one; otherwise I don't think I'd have bothered as much. Basically another solid read if you're looking for an introduction to Middle East history, and probably a bit more accessible than other comparable works. The main concept that Rogan tries to get at is that the Arab peoples have struggled for ages to get to a point of being able to determine their own destiny, and to this day have been largely deprived of that right by both foreign intervention and internal sectarianism. It's a crisis that continues to plague their consciousness today, in the face of a seemingly endless stream of suicide bombings and political assassinations and conflicts and civil wars and so on. This book actually came out before the Arab Spring happened, but from the way it ends off, there's no surprise why it did.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shoaib

    I wouldn’t have ever imagined I would get through a text on history as hastily as I have Eugene Roman’s exhaustive work on the history of the Arabs since the days of the Ottoman Empire. There probably isn’t another region of the world as fascinating, volatile and upsetting in their ongoing evolution as the countries loosely referred to as Arab nations or the Middle East. The last chapter on the tumultuous affairs of most of these countries is possibly and unfortunately yet to be written.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gokul Gr

    A must must read! West Asia and the wider Arab world shape the destiny of the world today like how Europe did till 1950s in a totally different fashion. It is also where the most intense political activity is happening. Ones which have ramifications all over the world. It's easy to be carried away by the dominant narratives and the stereotypes of the Arab world while staying confused about the real causes. The current cycle of violence and counter violence began in the region only in the 1980s. A must must read! West Asia and the wider Arab world shape the destiny of the world today like how Europe did till 1950s in a totally different fashion. It is also where the most intense political activity is happening. Ones which have ramifications all over the world. It's easy to be carried away by the dominant narratives and the stereotypes of the Arab world while staying confused about the real causes. The current cycle of violence and counter violence began in the region only in the 1980s. But it's very easy to forget that and paint the entire region with a single brush. To understand a people and the ways in which they think, it's vital to understand their history. Eugene Rogan does exactly that in this deeply insightful book. Starting with the Ottoman conquest of the Arab lands, the book traces the history of the Arabs through the many centuries under distinct themes. The ottomans giving way to imperialism and then to uncertainty of the post WWI settlement and further to Cold War and finally to the reality of American hegemony over world affairs. Eugene Rogan navigates us through these periods while trying to explain the present in the process. As history is still being made in the Middle East with civil wars far from over and the emergence of IS, a chapter on these is urgently required for the logical continuity. The book has an epilogue on the Arab Spring, dated December 2011 when it was yet to descend into chaos. As no one can escape from international politics these days and as the events of far away nations affect each of us on a daily basis, the only way out for a better future is to better understand the peoples around the world. And for understanding the Arabs, this is a good start...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vincent

    I could still recall vividly the morning of 9/11, coming back from school and watching the World Trade Center collapsing on TV. I knew it was a big deal, just didn't know how big. Ever since, middle eastern affairs have always been like misty clouds to me. Why did they do that? Why would those young Palestinians throw themselves at Israelis guns? Why did the US bomb the crap out of Saddam Hussein, the rather badass-looking guy with the same birthday as mine? What about Islamist movements and ISI I could still recall vividly the morning of 9/11, coming back from school and watching the World Trade Center collapsing on TV. I knew it was a big deal, just didn't know how big. Ever since, middle eastern affairs have always been like misty clouds to me. Why did they do that? Why would those young Palestinians throw themselves at Israelis guns? Why did the US bomb the crap out of Saddam Hussein, the rather badass-looking guy with the same birthday as mine? What about Islamist movements and ISIS? This book walks through the history of the Arab world under Ottoman rule, going through colonial era, the rise and fall of Arab nationalism, the rise of the state of Israel, until the day of 9/11. This book should be lauded for its mesmerizing storytelling. It felt like reading a fiction. And after the epilogue, it left me hanging, wanting a sequel and a prequel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    Best read of the year. Unputdownable non-fiction. Gave me the necessary information to understand the situation in the Middle-East and northern Africa. The history of the far away countries my neighbours came from.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Otavio Albano

    Biased, selective, and misleading. The Arab people is most of the time painted as victim of western domination and influence, instead of responsible of their own destiny. And above all, it's one of the most confused (and boring) non-fiction historical books I've ever read. Biased, selective, and misleading. The Arab people is most of the time painted as victim of western domination and influence, instead of responsible of their own destiny. And above all, it's one of the most confused (and boring) non-fiction historical books I've ever read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alok Chaurasia

    The sheer expanse of this book, the extraordinary lives that you're suddenly made aware of, the unrelenting spirit of the people who have never known peace, all this combined with the thought provoking narrative of the author makes sure that this remains an illuminating experience. This book is a great introduction to anyone who wishes to understand the complexities of various long-standing disputes within the larger context of Arab nationalism. One particular aspect that I really liked about th The sheer expanse of this book, the extraordinary lives that you're suddenly made aware of, the unrelenting spirit of the people who have never known peace, all this combined with the thought provoking narrative of the author makes sure that this remains an illuminating experience. This book is a great introduction to anyone who wishes to understand the complexities of various long-standing disputes within the larger context of Arab nationalism. One particular aspect that I really liked about this book is its homage to the women whose contribution to their respective causes cannot be overstated(which is often overshadowed in these accounts by those of men). In a society that has historically restricted women to their homes or behind a veil, for them to break free of these barriers to claim their voice feels almost revolutionary. Get this book its every bit worth it. One of the best books I have read so far this year.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shariq Chishti

    Excellent! Eugene Rogan has written a very readable history of the Arab world from the time of Ottoman Invasion to the present day and it should be required reading along with Robert Fisk`s The Great War for Civilisation for anyone interested in middle east. Highly recommended! Excellent! Eugene Rogan has written a very readable history of the Arab world from the time of Ottoman Invasion to the present day and it should be required reading along with Robert Fisk`s The Great War for Civilisation for anyone interested in middle east. Highly recommended!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aya

    An excellent book, informative and with the right amount of details but not a light read so take your time to enjoy it and grasp all the information. I highly reccomend it

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    I never knew history books could be so captivating and addictive. I am amazed at Rogan's ability to weave and tie together so much information into a vivid, cohesive narrative. I never knew history books could be so captivating and addictive. I am amazed at Rogan's ability to weave and tie together so much information into a vivid, cohesive narrative.

  20. 5 out of 5

    C. Patrick G. Erker

    I picked up a copy of this book in the Dubai Mall, at the huge bookstore upstairs. It’s a long one, but it reads fast. Lots of names, places, and dates, so it’s helpful if you have some familiarity with the region before reading (although the author has the useful habit of reminding you who various people are when he reintroduces them, if they’re not household names on the Arab street). If you’re American, Israeli, French, or British, prepare to be pummeled as the book has a distinctly anti-West I picked up a copy of this book in the Dubai Mall, at the huge bookstore upstairs. It’s a long one, but it reads fast. Lots of names, places, and dates, so it’s helpful if you have some familiarity with the region before reading (although the author has the useful habit of reminding you who various people are when he reintroduces them, if they’re not household names on the Arab street). If you’re American, Israeli, French, or British, prepare to be pummeled as the book has a distinctly anti-Western and especially anti-Israel bent, which is a shortcoming of the book given that the truth is complicated and the author’s biases come across as blatant and unrestrained. That aside, it’s a great book, telling what is often the tragic story of the Arab people in the last hundreds of years. I’d recommend it to anyone spending time in the region or interested in the perspectives we often don’t hear in the American press. The other shortcoming: the book (I read the second edition which doesn’t seem to be on Goodreads) spends some 600 pages describing the various calamities of the conquerors, despots, and atrocities that the resilient Arab people face, but like two pages discussing what it all means and where we go from here. It made his biases that much more frustrating since the author seemed to attempt to couch them in a fact-based history vs. just stating his opinion. But again, not enough to dissuade me from recommending the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul Culloty

    To date, there have been very few popular histories covering either the Arab world, or the Middle East in particular, so Rogan's work fills an essential gap. The first thing that immediately strikes iboth the breadth and depth of the work, as the author takes us on a whistle-stop tour of 500 years of regional history, covering the Ottoman Empire's wide array of provinces from Egypt to Iraq, not neglecting Morocco, outside the historical borders during the period. The book is extremely readable, To date, there have been very few popular histories covering either the Arab world, or the Middle East in particular, so Rogan's work fills an essential gap. The first thing that immediately strikes iboth the breadth and depth of the work, as the author takes us on a whistle-stop tour of 500 years of regional history, covering the Ottoman Empire's wide array of provinces from Egypt to Iraq, not neglecting Morocco, outside the historical borders during the period. The book is extremely readable, detailing the religious, social and cultural changes constantly engulfing the area, but also wearing the scholarly research lightly in making the people themselves the constant subject. Two flaws present themselves, but none so so vital as to take from the excellence of the book - firstly,it was published immediately before the Arab Spring, so a revised edition will be needed to cover events in Tunisia, Libya and Syria, not to mention updates on Israel/Palestine. That brings the second point into focus - because of the author's upbringing in the Arab world, his coverage of events since 1948 could be viewed as one-sided, but given that his remit here is to give the Arab perspective (and, to be fair, he does pinpoint Arab rivalry as a reason for failure), his view is understandable, to the extent that no-one can truly be an impartial observer concerning that conflict.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    This book addresses the very broad topic of the history of the Arabs from the conquest of Egypt by the Ottomans (1516) to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. (The edition I had included an updated postscript that touched upon the Arab Spring briefly.) The book is an accomplishment in terms of research and scope; I certainly learned a lot. At the same time, I also felt that the broad scope caused the book to be not-the-best for it's targeted audience of interested layperson. The ratio of This book addresses the very broad topic of the history of the Arabs from the conquest of Egypt by the Ottomans (1516) to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. (The edition I had included an updated postscript that touched upon the Arab Spring briefly.) The book is an accomplishment in terms of research and scope; I certainly learned a lot. At the same time, I also felt that the broad scope caused the book to be not-the-best for it's targeted audience of interested layperson. The ratio of available space in the book and the size of the topic meant that the book is too long and ambitious to be just a brief summary of Arab experience, but too short to cover any of it's multitude of issues or time periods in the sort of details that would provide deeper insight. The book felt like a collection of summaries of interrelated topics. That said though, I appreciated that the author mostly wrote about the events from the Arab's point of view, which I found valuable as compared to news coverage which feels like outsiders looking in. Lastly, be warned that this is mostly a story of bad people (of all sides) doing bad things.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    This book is such an accomplishment. I've read some history books that attempt what Rogan did here and they're such slogs. Somehow, he manages to weave centuries upon centuries and countries upon countries into an engaging, easy-to-follow narrative from the Ottoman occupation of this territory to the Arab Spring. He never seemed to have an ax to grind—the good, the bad, and the ugly of every person, power, or movement is put on full display—but there's definitely a deep undercurrent of empathy t This book is such an accomplishment. I've read some history books that attempt what Rogan did here and they're such slogs. Somehow, he manages to weave centuries upon centuries and countries upon countries into an engaging, easy-to-follow narrative from the Ottoman occupation of this territory to the Arab Spring. He never seemed to have an ax to grind—the good, the bad, and the ugly of every person, power, or movement is put on full display—but there's definitely a deep undercurrent of empathy throughout the work for the plight of these people. If there's one theme that carries through the whole thing, it's the tragedy of continuous occupation and the faultlines that crop up in native populations as a result of it. If you're looking for a primer on how things got to where they are in the Middle East, I'd recommend putting this at the top of your list.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Trista

    It's odd to give "stars" to a history book that served as an introductory overview for me, piecing together bits of history I'd gotten in other forms during my patchy American education in history (it's a crime, how little we are taught of it). Not knowing so much of this history prior to this book, I don't know how well I can rate the information. That's my disclaimer to the following: This book gives an extremely concise yet fluid summary of hundreds of years of push and pull in the various Ara It's odd to give "stars" to a history book that served as an introductory overview for me, piecing together bits of history I'd gotten in other forms during my patchy American education in history (it's a crime, how little we are taught of it). Not knowing so much of this history prior to this book, I don't know how well I can rate the information. That's my disclaimer to the following: This book gives an extremely concise yet fluid summary of hundreds of years of push and pull in the various Arab regions, between Ottoman, European, Persian, and different religious and ethnic sects. While also being a good read! Given the massive upheaval and reshaping in this part of the world, THE ARABS: A HISTORY should be required reading for all, right now.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katia N

    Brilliant introduction into the history of the MIddle East. Overwhelming scope of the book does not allow to focus on any particular area or the country of the region. But the facts and the key events are very clearly set out. After reading this I understand much better the background and the roots in majority of cases of the current situation in the region. Also the author has managed to refrain from judgement while some of the content really makes your hair stand. I've preferred "A line in the Brilliant introduction into the history of the MIddle East. Overwhelming scope of the book does not allow to focus on any particular area or the country of the region. But the facts and the key events are very clearly set out. After reading this I understand much better the background and the roots in majority of cases of the current situation in the region. Also the author has managed to refrain from judgement while some of the content really makes your hair stand. I've preferred "A line in the sand" by James Barr for the description of the role of Britain and France in the first half of 20th century. But this book has got much bigger scope and would be better starting point.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Datta

    A magisterial history of the region but somehow with more detailed information of the past then tthe contemporary era - for example, there is a mention of military coups in Syria but no mention of anyone between Husni Al-Zim and Hafez Al-Assad, similarly, the politics of Iraq is also not dealt with after the 1958 revolution till the coming of Saddam Hussein, but Lebanon gets quite a bit of focus... But on the whole a most important compendium and required reading to know how history hangs heavy A magisterial history of the region but somehow with more detailed information of the past then tthe contemporary era - for example, there is a mention of military coups in Syria but no mention of anyone between Husni Al-Zim and Hafez Al-Assad, similarly, the politics of Iraq is also not dealt with after the 1958 revolution till the coming of Saddam Hussein, but Lebanon gets quite a bit of focus... But on the whole a most important compendium and required reading to know how history hangs heavy on the Arab lands...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Waddah Arafat

    An excellent, academic, unbiased overview of the Arab history starting with the Ottoman rule (the first non Arabic rule of the Arab world) until Arab Spring. He tried his best to rely on local authentic sources instead of using the Western historic sources. The fluid transition between the history of different parts of the Arab world is just amazing. The author was able to connect the history of individual Arab countries in a common sequence of purpose and events.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    The Arabs: A History is panoramic view of 500 years of Arab history, and as such, is both a challenge and a rewarding endevor to read. The ancient history was engaging, but the recent history was a review of what was once current events for this reader and particularly interesting. Overall, it is an outstanding book in its genre.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jacob van Berkel

    Great book which does what it sets out to do: to get you up to speed on events in the Arab world, including some of its latest tragedies. Especially detailed and enlightening from the fall of the Ottomans onwards. Well written and easy to read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    This is a surprisingly engaging, readable history that weaves together, if in a bit of a formulaic way, political, historical and even feminist Arab history. Rogan does acknowledge at the outset that he does some regions less justice than they deserve -- aside from according fewer words to, for instance, the so-called Trucial states, I found some the sections on Lebanon, Iraq and Libya more narratively cluttered and uninteresting than the sections on Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Algeria (maybe i This is a surprisingly engaging, readable history that weaves together, if in a bit of a formulaic way, political, historical and even feminist Arab history. Rogan does acknowledge at the outset that he does some regions less justice than they deserve -- aside from according fewer words to, for instance, the so-called Trucial states, I found some the sections on Lebanon, Iraq and Libya more narratively cluttered and uninteresting than the sections on Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Algeria (maybe it's my own interest bias coming through). A great primer or refresher for those casually interested in the Arab world.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...