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Arabs in History Paperback – 14 Mar 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 6New Ed edition (14 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192803107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192803108
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2.3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Review from previous edition clear, fascinating and valuable (The Guardian)

stimulating ... The continuous regard paid to the development of trade and economy deserves partucular praise. (History)

Professor Lewis has admirably achieved his object, notably bringing out broad economic trends (International Affairs)

He writes concisely and clearly, ... a useful account of the challenges and crises both faced and precipitated by the Arabs in their long history. (Veronica Sen, Canberra Times)

... enormously influential history ... after reading 'Gibbon on Muhammad', it is tempting to speculate that Lewis's long-standing interest in the eighteenth-century historian may have influenced his own ambition to scan grand horizons, his taste for irony and his unmistakably elegant literary style. (Robert Irwin, Middle Eastern Studies)

About the Author

Bernard Lewis is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, and Long-Term Member of the Institute for Advance Study, Princeton University. He has published numerous books on the Middle East, including, The Assassins, Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, and The Middle East.

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THE Arabian peninsula forms a vast rectangle of some one and a quarter miles area. Read the first page
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. Kader on 8 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
Bernard Lewis is the Master when it comes to the middle east historical issues & analyzing the numerous & different mentalities that form a complex behaviour, his rich articulate writing is second to none & this book its no exception.He not only recounts arabs before Islam & after when they came to dominate the arabian peninsula & surrounding areas, the political conflicts that sparked civil wars & social unrest but also the civilisation they left behind in architecture, science,literature & arts. Arabs in History is very rich in details albeit concise.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melike on 2 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Such a treasure! You can find everything about the Arabs. Starting from the first years -5-6th century, it explains the Arabs and Islam, their way of living, expansion, religion, traditions, most important Sheiks and Sultans, the sects of the religion, the differences between the Arabs, economic and political situation. The books consists of 10 chapters: Arabia before Islam / Muhammed (s.a.v) and the rise of Islam / The age of the conquests / The Arab Kingdom / The Islamic Empire / The Arabs in Europe / Islamic Civilization / The Arabs in Eclipse and the impact of the West. What is left? Almost nothing. There is a chronological table from 853 BC till 2000. Everything is explained clearly and it is easy to read.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Spilsbury on 22 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an old book now, and the first I read many years ago on Arab Middle Eastern culture. It was at the time an inspiring and fascinating book to read, giving a precise breakdown of the term Arab, and disentangling the many diverse strands that underlie this homogenous term. Lewis looks at the arts, literature, scientific and cultural developments contextualising them within their cultural frames. In all sorts of respects this is a good primer for those looking to find a readable introduction to Arab histories and cultures.
In terms of deep analysis i think this is where Lewis falls down. He tends to adopt something of the Orientalists posture. For a good and very exhaustive definition and more important, analysis of 'Orientalism' look at Edward Saids book Orientalism.
Having read most of Lewis's books, I would say this is his most enduring contribution. The post 9.11 books on Islam are quite disappointing for a serious scholar, although in his defence, no doubt he feels a measure of despair for what he has seen develop in the Middle East, and this translates into judgement and biased commentary, which this early book was markedly free of.
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By Ghazanfar on 24 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
great book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Decent intro to this part of the world 17 Nov. 2005
By Newton Ooi - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bernard Lewis is probably one of the West's most recognizable and respected experts on the Middle East. Fluent in Arabic and having lived in various countries of the Middle East, he has written a plethora of books on this region for the western reader. THis is one of his more recent works, and provides a quick and digestable history of the Arab people; i.e. the people living in and around the Arabian peninsula

The book starts by examining the region before Islam. The pagan culture is examined, along with the local geography, climate, and economy. Next, the book shows how Islam came about thru Mohammed and his teachings, and how Islam came to be the predominant religion and social force in the region. The book then goes into the history of the Sunni-Shiite split, the growth of Islamic empires such as the Umayyads, Turks, etc. The book ends with the topic of Western influence in the region, and how this is affected by the Israel question and oil.

Overall, the book is fairly easy to read and serves as a good introduction to the region. It is suitable for students in college, high school, or adults, and can be picked up by anyone without prior knowledge of the region.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Just what you would expect 28 Jan. 2006
By J. P. Mas - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book covers the history of the Arabic world since pre Mohammed times to date. Of course, given the length of the book, you cannot expect a very detailed treatment nor an in depth analysis (the same author seems to offer them in other works). But as a concise and first-approach History is very useful. If you just need to get the facts, a road map and a sense of what has been the History of the Middle East, this is a very useful book. It is short, fast to read and opens up your appetite for more. It does not answer questions but it does something more important: it makes you ask lots of questions.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Non-Fiction Classic 16 May 2009
By Chris Luallen - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bernard Lewis is one of the world's foremost scholars on Islamic history and the Middle East. He has written a multitude of books, some dealing with more specific aspects of the Muslim world and it's relations with the West. But here history is written in broad strokes, as Lewis covers Arabic history from pre-Islamic Arabia to the present day. If you are not familiar with the subject matter then this book will be an outstanding primer. But even those already knowledgable will appreciate Lewis' articulate and insightful analysis. Commerce, warfare, religion and the arts are all discussed, with particular attention paid to the grand achievements of the Ummayyad and Abbasid Calipahtes during Islam's "Golden Era".

The reviewer from Scotland that claims Lewis is a neo-con with a bias against his subject clearly has not read the book and has no idea what he is talking about. Lewis is a serious scholar who comes across as highly objective, discussing both the glories and failures in Arab history. He also is one of the few academics able to write in a pleasurable and easy to read style while still maintaining his scholarly credibility This book is a classic of non-fiction and I recommend it to everyone with an interest in history.
24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Great Book: Lousy Printing 22 Jan. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Lewis's book has been through many editions, and as a short intro to Arab history it is hard to beat. What would not be hard to beat would be the dreadful production values of this OUP paperback edition. It is printed on horrible paper, and the binding keeps falling off. Shame on Oxford UP for putting out such a good book in such a shoddy format.
Compact overview on Arabs and Muslims 23 Oct. 2011
By Ameer Hamza Adhia - Published on
Format: Paperback
Bernard Lewis is arguably one the finest and thorough writers on Islamic history, society and political history. So no wonder that he wrote this book 50 years ago and since then it has remained in publication around the world.

This book is a compact history of the Arabs from pre-Islamic times till present. As most of the history of Arabs before Islam was only oral, few details have reached us. Most of the details, therefore, about Arabs, their culture, traditions, life and times, are of Islamic times. And Bernard Lewis recites his narration in a very non-emotional, matter-of-fact, running commentary style. This is an easy book to read and is fascinating though not detailed. Any book covering over 1500 years of History cannot be enough and Bernard never tries to make it such. He provides glimpses, quotes and general theme and attitude of the Arabs towards other Muslims and towards Christian, Jews and idol worshipers. Throughout the book we can sense his fascination with the nation called Arabs.

In all a wonderful, general history book on Arabs and Muslims.
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