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Arab Seafaring: In the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times (Expanded Edition) (Princeton Paperbacks) Paperback – 1 Jul 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Expanded edition with a New introduction, notes, and bibliography by John Carswell edition (1 July 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691000328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691000329
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,006,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"All in all, this brief account is rich in the depth of its analyses and in the authoritative sources cited, both Western and Arab. . . . It is not likely that this superb work will be superseded in the near future."--Digest of Middle East Studies

"This reprint of Professor Hourani's elegant monograph forty-five years after its first publication is a tribute to the soundness of his original conception and the excellence of its presentation. Hardly a word seems to need emendation."--Asian Affairs

From the Back Cover

"In Arab Seafaring George Hourani reviews--crisply, comprehensively and authoritatively--the story of Arab trade routes and the ships that plied them, from earliest times to the Middle Ages. His book is as indispensable today as it was when first published forty years ago; there is no other that covers this significant martime history."--Lionel Casson, author of The Ancient Mariners

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
When the lady of Malik rides her camel at dawn, her litter appears like a large ship in the midst of the valley of Dad, one of the ships of Adulis or of ibn-Yamin, which the mariner now turns aside and now directs straight ahead; its prow cuts through the foam of the water as a gambler divides the dust with his hand. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jasmine Richards on 9 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I used this title to research my novel The Book of Wonders. I found it to be very, very useful. Detailed but accessible and engrossingly written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Rare book on rarely looked subject 19 April 2000
By "muslimhistorian" - Published on
Format: Paperback
This classic masterpiece deserved reprinted more than anything else and it is done with an excellent expansion, especially on narrated accounts of travellers and geographers of the time. Inside you'll find an interesting correlation proposed between Islamic trading activities and their mastery of the Indian Ocean, its height and downfall until the 1000 AD. Buy it, especially if you're an Indonesian Muslim.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Facinating book 25 Oct. 2013
By Chickpeana - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really interesting book on a subject that is hard to find in this country. However I have been more than little bit disappointed to find that he uses nearly exclusively European and American books and archeologists as sources. What are the chances that absolutely no academic work on their own history has been done by Arabs?
well and good: but we still want to know whether they ... 9 Feb. 2015
By Jake Zirkle - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
George F. Hourani’s Arab Seafaring highlights the history of Arab sea trade in the Indian Ocean from ancient times to the early middle ages. Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, Hourani molds a compelling and comprehensive work in just over one hundred pages. Hourani’s goal is to not to cover the commercial and economic reasons behind these voyages, but rather to discuss and examine the ships and routes used by Arab traders. For example, Hourani states “If articles of Indian manufacture are found in Babylonia and dated to a certain period, well and good: but we still want to know whether they were carried there by Indians, Babylonians, or an intermediary nation like the Arabs of ‘Uman.” (Hourani, XV)
Arab Seafaring chronicles the history of Arab navigators and the Indian Ocean. Hourani begins with prehistory, but quickly moves into the period shortly before Alexander the Great and continues through the early Middle Ages. In the third chapter Hourani deviates from his chronological history and shifts to a discussion on ships and related topics such as halls, navigation, masts, and sails.
Hourani quickly takes his audience on a nautical journey through over 2,000 years of history. He wastes no time getting to the point of his work. From the first page to the last page, the reader is greeted with a plethora of names, dates, and places as Hourani masterfully reconstructs the history of Arab seafaring. This book is a great starting point for anyone interested in Arab or maritime history because it gives a tremendous introduction to a massive amount of information. This functions as a launching point for deeper study into the various topics and time periods that Hourani touches on throughout the work. Arab Seafaring is a very detailed book that provides an enormous amount of information, yet it is lacking due to the pace at which this brief narrative progresses. Hourani leaves little time for further explanation of the material covered, instead he continues on at full speed.
Hourani uses many primary and secondary sources from a wide range of regions and authors. His evaluation and interruption of the primary sources allows him to construct a compelling narrative that tells Arab history from the combination of numerous perspectives. There exists, however, a few issues with some of his conclusions. The addition of notes by John Carswell shows the advancements that have been made in the field since the book was originally published and they point out some of the incorrect assumptions made by Hourani. An example of this can be found on page 80 where Hourani refers to Qanbalu, which he associates with Madagascar. It is pointed out on page 148, however, that “almost no one presently thinks Qanbalu could have been Madagascar. There is very little evidence of major trade interaction with Madagascar prior to the twelfth century.” (Carswell, 148)
An indispensable work, Arab Seafaring both intrigues and persuades the reader. Hourani successfully transfers his knowledge to the page and creates a monumentally important piece that is invaluable to maritime historiography. Although it is brief, it is overflowing with pertinent information.
Book 12 Feb. 2013
By Frances K. Everette-Gayther - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thanks for sending this book in time for my class assignments. It was an interesting read and I appreciate your promptness.
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