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So much has been written about the history of the Arab World, most driven by interpretations of emotion, suffering and partisanship. Many of the books have been narratives reflecting the author’s bias or political preferences, making them either easy to read satisfying your needs or difficult to read challenging your beliefs. Eugene Rogan, the director of The Middle east Centre at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford, however, provides a clinically accurate and compelling “history” that gives the Arab World in a timely examination and explanation.
The introduction details why knowledge of the history of the Arabs is so important and it is followed by chapters that take you through the major developments and the evolution of today’s Arab. How did they get to where they are at? And, are they being marginlized and erased by the growing Islamic revolution which is burying the richness and uniqueness of the secular Arab culture in a cult of religious bastardization? These are only some questions that one might answer in understanding the history of The Arabs in Rogan’s book.
We all know the historical chronology, but Rogan takes us through a more interesting read through Ottoman rule, the Muhammad Ali empire, reformation, colonization in African, World War I, the disastrous rule of Britain in the Middle East, France in Lebanon, the disaster in Palestine, the rise of Arab nationalism, and the decline of Arab nationalism, the age of oil and the age of Islam, with a look at the consequences of the aftermath of the Cold War.
The other problem I have with past narratives of Arab history has been the writing. It’s so hard to read some of the past historical collections. They are painful to the reader and intended for the scholar. Rogan’s book mixes his firsthand experience living in the Middle East, his love for the Arab people and a writing style that encourages the non-scholar to appreciate and enjoy the rich cultural and political history of the Arabs. What the Arab World needs is less interference from the professors and scholars and more understanding among the public at large. The public needs this book more than the dusty shelves of some Middle East studies department or the classroom of affected PhD wannabes.
It’s the ease by which one can read this thick scholarly work that makes it so valuable. Knowledge is worthless if it can’t be expressed and passed along to the less knowledgeable. Rogan has taken the complexities of the Middle East and the role of its evolution under The Arabs and made it something everyday readers will enjoy. More importantly, they will take something away from this enjoyable reading experience. I’ve read almost every book on the Middle East and the Arabs over the past 35 years of American Arab activism, but Rogan’s “The Arabs” has been the most enjoyable, and that makes it the most educational.
I am not a scholar on the Middle East, just a lifelong student. Reading through Rogan’s book has been very informative and enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
More information on “The Arabs”:
by Eugene Rogan
Published by Basic Books
Eugene Rogan is a faculty fellow and university lecturer in the Modern History of the Middle East at St Antony’s College, Oxford, where he serves as director of the Middle East Centre. His previous book, Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire, was judged by the Middle East Studies Association of North America to be the best work on the Middle East in 2000 and awarded the Albert Hourani Prize. He lives in Oxford, England.
This post has already been read 42 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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