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The Arabs: A History

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Overview


In this definitive history of the modern Arab world, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan draws extensively on Arab sources and texts to place the Arab experience in its crucial historical context for the first time. Tracing five centuries of Arab history, Rogan reveals that there was an age when the Arabs set the rules for the rest of the world. Today, however, the Arab world’s sense of subjection to external powers carries vast consequences for both the region and Westerners who attempt to control it.

Updated with a new epilogue, The Arabs is an invaluable, groundbreaking work of history.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A straightforward, careful primer on Arab political history from the rise of the Ottoman Empire to the forging of modern fundamentalist Islamic entities. Rogan (Modern History of the Middle East/Oxford Univ.; Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire, 2000) traces the significant modern themes of nationalism, imperialism, revolution, industrialization, migration and women's rights over the past five centuries within the Islamic states, stretching from North Africa to the Sinai, the Middle East to South Asia. With the conquest of the Cairo-based Mamluk Empire by the Ottomans in 1517, the vast Turkish-speaking Islamic empire would now rule from foreign capitals over the globe, "a political reality," Rogan writes, "that would prove one of the defining features of modern Arab history." Managing the multi-ethnicity of the empire was a challenge, and by the mid-18th century local leaders such as Zahir in Palestine and Ali Bey in Egypt challenged Ottoman autonomy, while the rise of the Wahhabi sect called for a return to the strictures of religious orthodoxy. Further currents of reform and nationalism, as in the Balkans, weakened the central state, while the waves of Franco-Anglo colonialism undermined Ottoman authority, from North Africa to Palestine. By the end of World War I the European powers negotiated their settlements in terms of "divide and rule." Rogan, who regards Arab history from the viewpoint of Arabs, concentrates on the postwar collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as British and French domination ebbed, Israel was established, the greed for oil transformed the region and a new generation repudiated the era of nationalism and ineffectual leadership and looked to an earlierproud history of Islam. A sweeping history that dwells on political rather than artistic or cultural developments within diverse Arab countries. Agent: Felicity Bryan/Felicity Bryan Literary Agency
From the Publisher

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Columbia University
"A masterful, thorough, and well-written survey of the entire sweep of modern Arab history. Full of lively vignettes but comprehensive at the same time, this book will be of great interest both to general readers and students of the Arab world.”

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan and author of Engaging the Muslim World
“No better guide to the modern history of the Arab world could be found than Eugene Rogan. He is attentive as much to the insider accounts in Arab memoirs as to the imperial schemes hatched in drawing rooms in Paris and London, as concerned with popular movements and uprisings as with elite reformism, and unafraid to confront directly and with the best evidence and documentation available the vexed issues of colonialism, Orientalism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Rogan achieves a rare, and realistic synoptic vision of the way in which Arabness has been shaped by both indigenous forces and Western imperial ones. In recent years, the United States has attempted to rule Arabs while carefully avoiding knowing anything about them, a strategy that has yielded all too predictable results. Those in the West who aspire to engage the Arab world in more productive ways in the future will find Rogan an indispensable companion.”

Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
“Eugene Rogan writes about the Middle East with exceptional empathy, wisdom, and insight. His book is a landmark in scholarship on this complex and controversial region. Western scholars have written extensively about the Middle East but mostly from the outside looking in. The Arabs often feature in their accounts as mere driftwood on the sea of international affairs. Rogan, by contrast, has narrated the history of the region over the last five centuries from the inside looking out. He tells the history of the Arabs from their own perspective, using an impressive range of Arabic sources. It is a fascinating story and in Eugene Rogan it has found its most gifted chronicler.”

Sir Alistair Horne, author of A Savage War of Peace
“Anyone who seeks to understand why the Islamic world bears a grudge against the West should read The Arabs. Few scholars know their subject better than Eugene Rogan, while even fewer are capable of rendering so complex a subject so engagingly readable. It is a joy to open, and a deprivation to put down.”

Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919 and Nixon and Mao
“With eloquence, verve, and understanding, Eugene Rogan rightly reminds us that the world, and the Arabs themselves, need to remember the past. If we are to build a better relationship between the Arab world and the West, if we are to avoid making the same mistakes again and again, we need to know Arab history from its many high points to its low ones. I can think of no better guide on this crucially important journey than The Arabs.”

Kirkus
“A straightforward, careful primer on Arab political history from the rise of the Ottoman Empire to the forging of modern fundamentalist Islamic entities…. A sweeping history.”

Booklist
“Framing modern history as viewed from the Arab world, Rogan eruditely furnishes Western readers with a background to current events.”

The Atlantic
“[Rogan] provides a prism through which the lay Westerner can view five centuries of tumult, zealotry, and complication…. Deeply erudite and distinctly humane, Rogan consistently plays up (and never papers over) the bountiful East-West parallels."

Stephen M. Walt, ForeignPolicy.com
“[A]n entertaining, gracefully written, and eye-opening look at a diverse people whose history, culture and character are often badly misunderstood (if not actively distorted) here in the United States. Read it. You’ll learn a lot.”

Simon Sebag Montefiore, for the Financial Times
“A rich, galloping narrative that spans the Arab world from Morocco to Yemen to Iraq… Rogan’s The Arabs: A History is an outstanding, gripping and exuberant narrative, full of flamboyant character sketches, witty asides and magisterial scholarship, that explains much of what we need to know about the world today.” 

The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“Very much a modern history… Rogan gives a lucid account of political developments throughout the Arab lands, unpicking messy tangles such as the Lebanese civil war or the fragmentation of Palestinian political movements.”

The Guardian (UK)
“The vivid narrative of The Arabs is… eloquent, and compulsively readable.”

The Economist
“[A] fascinating [story], and exceedingly well told…. What makes [Rogan’s] book particularly useful is the way it situates [the Arab-Israeli conflict] within the wider context of the Arabs’ long, and still unsuccessful, struggle to come to more equal terms with the West. Europeans in particular, and also Americans, need their memories jogged about just how arrogant, duplicitous and frequently stupid their governments have been in dealing with the Middle East…. [An] exemplary history.”

The Scotsman (UK)
“An incredibly ambitious book… wonderfully inclusive and articulate and knowledgeable, pretty much indispensable.”

The Times (UK)
“[The Arabs], which starts with the Ottoman Turks’ conquest of the Arab world in 1516-17, offers a strikingly vivid and authoritative account of its subsequent experience… [Rogan’s] rehearsal of recent Middle East history is impeccable.”

The Spectator
“Rogan’s brilliant book is clear-eyed and balanced. Mixing academic rigour with a lively narrative style, The Arabs: A History is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the background to the mess that the Arabs find themselves in.”

The Scotsman (UK)
"An incredibly ambitious book… wonderfully inclusive and articulate and knowledgeable, pretty much indispensable.”

The Times (UK)
“[The Arabs], which starts with the Ottoman Turks’ conquest of the Arab world in 1516-17, offers a strikingly vivid and authoritative account of its subsequent experience… [Rogan’s] rehearsal of recent Middle East history is impeccable.”

Dallas Morning News
“Rogan manages the somewhat staggering feat of outlining nearly 500 years of history in a way that is neither cursory nor overwhelming – and is based in the experiences of the people themselves…. [Rogan’s] ability to gather and synthesize such a wealth of information, showing both the humanity and malice present on all sides, while neither bowing to nor accepting conventional wisdom, is truly remarkable. It’s to be hoped that America’s decision makers get their hands on a copy of The Arabs – and take very good notes.”

Foreign Affairs
“Readable and reliable, this sweeping survey balances the unity of a coherent story with due attention to detail. As such, Rogan’s contribution belongs in the company of the earlier classics by Hitti and Hourani.”

The Times Literary Supplement
“[An] excellent book…. Eugene Rogan has written an authoritative and wide-ranging history.”

Middle East Policy Journal
“[A] perceptive narrative of the past 500 years of Arab history…. This is a book for the general reader with little or no detailed knowledge of the Arab world. The writing is fluid and avoids academic theorizing and jargon…. However, even specialists should find this book a valuable guide to major events across the Arab world from Iraq to Morocco over an extensive period of time.”

BBC History Magazine (UK) “[An] eloquent grand narrative of optimism and despair…. Rogan’s book is evocative, timely and illuminating for the general reader. The individual Arab voices that he uses to structure the narrative – ordinary people, intellectuals, activists and political leaders – provide a much needed insider perspective, which nuances stereotypical images of the Arab world in the media. Moreover, The Arabs discloses unfamiliar and unsettling truths on the vexed and often over-simplified relationship between the Arab world and its historical ‘others,’ Europe, the west and Israel. Compelling as it is in its own right, this is indeed food for thought also for its relevance to world affairs at large.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465071005
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 10/26/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 592
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Eugene Rogan is the Director of the Middle East Centre at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Winner of the Albert Hourani Prize and a book of the year award from the Middle East Studies Association of North America, he lives in Oxford, England.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 From Cairo to Istanbul 13

Chapter 2 The Arab Challenge to Ottoman Rule 39

Chapter 3 The Egyptian Empire of Muhammad 'Ali 61

Chapter 4 The Perils of Reform 85

Chapter 5 The First Wave of Colonialism: North Africa 109

Chapter 6 Divide and Rule: World War I and the Postwar Settlement 149

Chapter 7 The British Empire in the Middle East 175

Chapter 8 The French Empire in the Middle East 211

Chapter 9 The Palestine Disaster and Its Consequences 247

Chapter 10 The Rise of Arab Nationalism 277

Chapter 11 The Decline of Arab Nationalism 319

Chapter 12 The Age of Oil 355

Chapter 13 The Power of Islam 397

Chapter 14 After the Cold War 439

Epilogue 483

Postscript 499

Acknowledgments 505

Permissions 507

Notes 509

Index 539

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    History of the modern arab world

    This is an excellent history of the Arabs in the modern age. Rogan, who teaches Modern History of the Middle East at the University of Oxford, is able to read both Arabic and Turkish. His book therefore cites a lot of Arabic and Turkish writings to present a history of the Arabs from Arab sources.

    The history here begins with the Ottoman's defeat of the Mamluks in 1516 and ends in the year 2007. He charts the evolution of Arab identity from Ottomanism to Arabism to Islamism. Present day Islamists argue that the Arabs were strong and all-powerful when they adhered most closely to their Muslim faith. This is one of the main reasons for the resurgence of Muslim movements worldwide.

    Rogan writes well. His presentation and analysis are excellent. He has taken a fair and balance stand on many polemic issues. I would highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2011

    Loved this book

    A concise history of the region for both new students in international affairs and novices. Eugene Rogan's writing is clear and engaging. I hope to see more work by him and his colleagues on the 2011 uprisings and transitions in the region.

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    Posted August 10, 2011

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    Posted June 9, 2011

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