Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Learn more Fitbit Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
10
4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£10.48+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 24 March 2017
Very clear and nicely written. It gives us a very clear understanding of the history of the Arabs and of the Islam.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 March 2013
I am reviewing this as a general reader and so cannot comment on any academic points. I and bought this book alongside 'North Africa' by Barnaby Rogerson (which I found more colloquial and a little careless in style and opinions)

A History of the Arabs is not an afternoon speed-read by any means - but I found it highly informative. It filled in massive gaps in my knowledge, exacerbated by superficial news items which seldom, if ever, delve into an explanation based on a proper history of the Arab World. We tend to have things presented to us as 'this leader is a baddy so we want to get rid of him for someone better'....until the new ruler's turn in the unpopularity stakes comes in a decade or two. Frighteningly, we seem to back a new regime even when we have no idea what it is or what it will do.

The work covers the period from well before Mohammed - the time of the Roman and Byzantine Empires - up to the 1980s - with a useful afterword by Malise Ruthven in 2012. There are detailed descriptions of art, architecture, poetry, language, geography, changing national boundaries and the divisions of Islam - and the rapid spread of the various forms of the religion.

To begin to understand the role of Britain in the Arab and Israeli world can make one feel embarrassed and ashamed - though it has been argued that colonisation, even if patronising, is not actually all bad where a there are minorities liable to hostile treatment eg Coptic Christians amongst others.

Comments made by Hourani that "Women could still scarcely find a public role other than teacher or nurse" in the Maghrib in the pre WWII years I found amusing - as these jobs would have been a commendable achievement for the women in Hourani's native city of Manchester, Britain,in the 1970s.

Also his observations that there were rules - very many years ago - about when women could leave their houses is not dissimilar to the long period of post war UK - the rules were less explicit but there was huge debate about whether married women should work - often taken as a sign of poverty or stealing jobs from the men - and many, e.g. teachers, were expected to resign on marriage - leaving the house was with children, to go shopping or to visit a female relative. Even now most solitary females outside London do not feel comfortable going alone to public houses - and certainly not in the evenings.

To become acquainted with the myriad complexities of Islam, the Arab world, ancient "tribal" conquests and recent/current wars this is a great primer - the correct versions of the Arabic names took me some time to get used to but the brain cells benefited, I am sure.

The one downside is the maps which I found very poor and not at all easy to use - so you might want a separate map of the North Africa/Mediterranean Basin/Arab Peninsular unless you are already familiar with the areas.
22 Comments| 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 September 2015
This book is important for any person from the western world to read. It will give a clearer understanding of the Middle East, and the Arab people generally, and as importantly the impact of western civilisation on the Arab word. Read it!
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 July 2016
A great book with details about Arab people history. It is an easy read book and a fantastic source of information for Middle Eastern studies students.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Very good book. A good introduction on arab history.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 June 2015
Great service and a creaking good read. Hourani manages to present his material in a balanced way although you can tell where his sympathies lay. However, the afterword is a biased polemic and not up to the standard of Hourani's work.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 December 2016
great book, worth buying.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 June 2015
He goes really over top in detail as another reviewer has written. In one bit he spends about a page describing the patterns on doors of a particular area of Egpyt (or wherever it was) and probably about 10% of the book is dedicated poetry and the number of syllables used in a line depending on the era. It could have been easily half the length. But you get some decent information about the Arabs from it nonetheless
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 June 2014
Too detail and so obscures the important historic facts - if you are in for that it is good but ends up repeatitive.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 December 2013
Great!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse