A History of the Arab Peoples (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Albert Hourani’s A History of the Arab Peoples is an ambitious and successful attempt to summarize fourteen centuries of political, cultural, and religious history of people who inhabited an area that encompassed Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East. The book, which also contains a thirty-page bibliography, several maps, and tables and lists of the Prophet’s descendants, caliphs, dynasties, and prominent families, represents an important scholar’s lifetime of research and is the fitting culmination of his earlier works: Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939 (1983), Europe and the Middle East (1980), and The Emergence of the Modern Middle East (1981).
Although he asserts that his book is intended for beginning students and general readers, Hourani includes such a wealth of information that most of his intended audience may be overwhelmed. When he discusses general subjects, such as Arab poetry and its relation to society, or when he includes short vignettes about representative Arab figures, the book is fascinating and most readable, but his accounts of political and religious dynasties read more like a densely packed textbook. For the benefit of his readers, there are helpful summaries introducing each of the five parts of the narrative, and the indexing is comprehensive enough to aid browsers and researchers looking for specific information.
Hourani divides his twenty-six-chapter book into...
(The entire section is 2112 words.)
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