Cover image for A concise history of the Arabs
Title:
A concise history of the Arabs
Author:
McHugo, John, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : The New Press, 2013.

©2013.
Physical Description:
352 pages : maps ; 24 cm
Summary:
"From Algeria and Libya to Egypt and Syria, the Arab world commands Western headlines, even as its complex politics and cultures elude the grasp of most Western readers and commentators. Perhaps no other region is so closely linked to contemporary U.S. foreign policy, and nowhere else does the unfolding of events have such significant consequences for America. The Arabs: A Concise History argues that the key to understanding the Arab world today--and in the years ahead--is unlocking its past. John McHugo takes the reader on a journey through the political, social, and intellectual history of the Arabs from the Roman Empire right up to the present day. His sweeping and fluent account describes in vivid detail the mission of the Prophet Muhammad, the expansion of Islam, the origins of Shiism, medieval and modern conflicts, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the interaction with Western ideas, the struggle to escape foreign domination, the rise of Islamism, and the end of the era of dictators. McHugo reveals how the Arab world came to have its present form, why change was inevitable, and what choices lie ahead following the Arab Spring. This deeply informed and accessible account is the perfect entry point for anyone seeking to comprehend this vital part of the world. "--
Language:
English
Contents:
When history changed direction -- Growing apart -- The West takes control -- Sharing an indigestible cake -- Secularism and Islamism in Egypt -- The West seems to retreat -- The Six Day War and its consequences -- Iraq, Israel, militancy, and terrorism -- The age of the autocrats and the rise of Islamism -- Conclusion: Something snaps--the Arab Spring and beyond.
ISBN:
9781595589460
Format :
Book

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Central Library DS37.7 .M44 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

From Algeria and Libya to Egypt and Syria, the Arab world commands Western headlines, even as its complex politics and cultures elude the grasp of most Western readers and commentators. Perhaps no other region is so closely linked to contemporary U.S. foreign policy, and nowhere else does the unfolding of events have such significant consequences for America.

A Concise History of the Arabs argues that the key to understanding the Arab world today--and in the years ahead--is unlocking its past. John McHugo takes the reader on a journey through the political, social, and intellectual history of the Arabs from the Roman Empire right up to the present day. His sweeping and fluent account describes in vivid detail the mission of the Prophet Muhammad, the expansion of Islam, the origins of Shiism, medieval and modern conflicts, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the interaction with Western ideas, the struggle to escape foreign domination, the rise of Islamism, and the end of the era of dictators.

McHugo reveals how the Arab world came to have its present form, why change was inevitable, and what choices lie ahead following the Arab Spring. This deeply informed and accessible account is the perfect entry point for anyone seeking to comprehend this vital part of the world.


Author Notes

John McHugo is an Arabist, an international lawyer, and a former academic researcher. He is a director of the Council for Arab--British Understanding, the chair of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, and a director of the British--Egyptian Society. He lives in London.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Squeezing the history of a people into one volume is an ambitious undertaking with the end result bound to leave out more than it includes, the details needed to understand a time and place elided. McHugo, an international lawyer and Arabist, proves as much with this unfocused volume. It's very much history of the old school, a linear narrative detailing a "concatenation of historical events," which, while cogent and serviceable, fails to capture the essence of societal transformation and intellectual ferment. McHugo promises that "this is not a history of Islam" but begins with the birth of Muhammad, ignoring the much-older origins of Arab identity. The Maghreb and al-Andalus are mostly absent, as is the Arabian Peninsula itself-a thumbnail sketch of Saudi Arabia appears only as an awkward appendage to a chapter ostensibly about Egypt-and the two political entities discussed at greatest length are Israel and the Ottoman Empire. The last chapter, covering the recent uprisings and modern theories regarding the role of religion in governance, is more successful, but little sets it apart from better, more in-depth analyses of the same topics elsewhere. Maps. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

McHugo, an Arabic linguist and international lawyer, set an ambitious goal for his book: to condense over 1,500 years of Arab history into one accessible book. Overall, he succeeds, covering the highlights of Arab history and introducing prominent Arab thinkers and ideas while maintaining a suitable reading level for general readers. He is strongest when discussing the 20th century, explaining issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the rise of autocrats. While analyzing the events of the Arab Spring, McHugo is careful to point out its ongoing nature and the perils of prediction. The preface also clearly states what this book is and is not, providing a list of what is not covered, such as gender issues or ethnic minorities. It is specifically an Arab history, with only two references to the Safavid and Mughal empires. McHugo discusses Iran slightly more but mainly in its relation to the Arab world. Though the book is useful for general readers, it is problematic for academic libraries. A textbook would better serve introductory classes, and advanced undergraduates would likely want more depth than a concise history can provide. Summing Up: Recommended. For general readers and public libraries only. D. E. Jenison Kent State University


Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. 8
Glossary of Arabic Terms and Wordsp. 9
Prefacep. 13
1 When History Changed Directionp. 19
2 Growing Apartp. 49
3 The West Takes Controlp. 77
4 Sharing an Indigestible Cakep. 111
5 Secularism and Islamism in Egyptp. 150
6 The West Seems to Retreatp. 168
7 The Six Day War and its Consequencesp. 215
8 Iraq, Israel, Militancy and Terrorismp. 228
9 The Age of the Autocrats and the Rise of Islamismp. 265
Conclusion: Something Snaps - The Arab Spring and Beyondp. 293
Acknowledgementsp. 322
Notesp. 324
Bibliographyp. 331
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 338
Indexp. 341

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