Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires

Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires

by Tim Mackintosh-Smith


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A riveting, comprehensive history of the Arab peoples and tribes that explores the role of language as a cultural touchstone

This kaleidoscopic book covers almost 3,000 years of Arab history and shines a light on the footloose Arab peoples and tribes who conquered lands and disseminated their language and culture over vast distances. Tracing this process to the origins of the Arabic language, rather than the advent of Islam, Tim Mackintosh-Smith begins his narrative more than a thousand years before Muhammad and focuses on how Arabic, both spoken and written, has functioned as a vital source of shared cultural identity over the millennia.
Mackintosh-Smith reveals how linguistic developments—from pre-Islamic poetry to the growth of script, Muhammad’s use of writing, and the later problems of printing Arabic—have helped and hindered the progress of Arab history, and investigates how, even in today’s politically fractured post–Arab Spring environment, Arabic itself is still a source of unity and disunity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300180282
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 04/30/2019
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 69,370
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.30(d)

About the Author

Tim Mackintosh-Smith is an eminent Arabist, translator, and traveler whose previous publications include Travels with a Tangerine and Yemen. He has lived in the Arab world for thirty-five years and is a senior fellow of the Library of Arabic Literature.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps ix

Foreword: The Wheel and the Hourglass xii

Introduction: Gathering the Word 1

Emergence: 900 BC-AD 600

1 Voices from the Wilderness: Earliest Arabs 19

2 Peoples and Tribes: Sabaeans, Nabataeans and Nomads 46

3 Scattered Far and Wide: The Changing Grammar of History 70

4 On the Edge of Greatness: The Days of the Arabs 88

Revolution: 600-630

5 Revelation, Revolution: Muhammad and the Qur'an 115

6 God and Caesar: The State of Medina 147

Dominance: 630-900

7 Crescaders: Openings-Up 177

8 The Kingdom of Damascus: Umayyad Rule 223

9 The Empire of Baghdad: Abbasid Sovereignty 262

Decline: 900-1350

10 Counter-Cultures, Counter-Caliphs: The Empire Breaks Up 305

11 The Genius in the Bottle: The Hordes Close In 348

Eclipse: 1350-1800

12 Masters of the Monsoon: Arabs around the Indian Ocean 381

Re-Emergence: 1800-Now

13 Identity Rediscovered: Awakenings 413

14 The Age of Hope: Nasserism, Ba'thism, Liberation, Oil 459

15 The Age of Disappointment: Autocrats, Islamocrats, Anacharchs 488

Afterword: In the Station of History 527

Chronology 537

Notes 559

Bibliography 602

Index 609

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