I sympathize with reviewers who were offended by this book. There are, especially towards the beginning of the book, some generalizations that make me wince. And Hitti's vocabulary is full of obsolete ethnographic and anthropological terms that raise ugly associations with colonial racial ideas. Hitti wrote with the simplicity of scholars before multiculturalism and postmodernism, for whom the peoples of the world were specimens to be analyzed without regard to cultural sensitivity. Other scholars with encyclopedic knowledge of the Arabic peoples from Hitti's time were prone to generalizations: H. G. Farmer, who wrote the definitive book on Arabian music, was prone to say things like "As with all the Semites . . ."
But while Hitti may not have the cultural sensitivity of today's writers, his depth of knowledge is astonishing, and he writes beautifully. Where Hourani tells us relatively vaguely how things happened over centuries, Hitti shows us the singers of Medina, the philosophers of Baghdad, the slaves of Persia. Where Hourani's book is a good history, Hitti's book is also a work of art. Yes, be advised that Hitti's work is riddled with obsolete ideas, but also be aware that the very richness of his account argues against any stereotypes that he might have professed.