Excellent ... I read the 2nd edition and this latest edition refines a few points but maintains the original essence of the book. A must read, especially today with all the terrorism that is happening in the world today; it helps understand the origin of a what most suspected.
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.
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.
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.