Upon its publication in 1991, Albert Hourani’s masterwork was hailed as the definitive story of Arab civilization, and became both a bestseller and an instant classic. In a panoramic view encompassing twelve centuries of Arab history and culture, Hourani brilliantly illuminated the people and events that have fundamentally shaped the Arab world.
Now this seminal book is available in an expanded second edition. Noted Islamic scholar Malise Ruthven brings the story up to date from the mid-1980s, including such events as the Gulf War; civil unrest in Algeria; the change of leadership in Syria, Morocco, and Jordan; and the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001.
The terrorist attacks in the United States, ongoing crisis in Iraq, and renewed violence between Israelis and Palestinians all underscore the need for a balanced and well-informed understanding of the Arab world, and make this insightful history of the Arab peoples more important than ever.
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Albert Hourani was Emeritus Fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford. He died in 1993.
Malise Ruthven is a former editor with the BBC Arabic Service and World Service in London and is the author of Islam in the World and Islam: A Very Short Introduction.
This book by one of the most distinguished scholars of the Arab world and the Middle East is a splendid achievement that can be read with profit by rank beginners and jaded specialists. It is, moreover, written with the grace and wisdom that those who know Mr. Hourani's works have come to expect... This is history in the grand style. It can lead to a better understanding of the Arabs, past and present. (L. Carl Brown New York Times Book Review)
There is something deeply reassuring and even redemptive about this very fine book... It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this book for this time. Here at last is a genuinely readable, genuinely responsive history of the Arabs... [Hourani] completely controls the best in modern as well as traditional Western scholarship and often lets the Arabs, their poets, historians, sages and ordinary people speak along with, rather than against, that learning. (Edward W. Said Los Angeles Times Book Review)
[An] elegantly written study... [Hourani] delivers a grand story in a deceptively quiet and gentle tone of voice; a vision of the great journey of the Arab peoples. (Robert Irwin Times Literary Supplement)
Mr. Hourani is one of the few scholars capable of writing a worthwhile history of the Arabs from the rise of Islam until the present day in under 600 pages. His treatment is inevitably broad-brush, but never superficial. He covers not only political history but culture, society, economy, and thought; and this distillation of a lifetime's scholarship is the book's greatest virtue. (Economist)
This is a brilliant book, perhaps a landmark. It radiates the penetrating light of Albert Hourani's massive erudition upon what he calls the 'deeply disturbed societies' of the Arab world... Hourani is able to explain, concisely, matters of surpassing difficulty which must be understood in order to make sense of contemporary events... [A] rich and often gripping book. (Thomas W. Lippman Washington Post Book World)
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