(P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks, Inc.
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
You will definitely get your money's worth with this one! There is a tremendous amount of information here - a complete history of a people and a world religion.
One reason this is a good buy it that it merits more than one listen. After getting through the book once, one cannot help but gain the ability to absorb more detail on a second read.
Some of the highlights: (1) The description of the life of Muhammad, (2) The explanation of the divergence of Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam, (3) The discussion of the Sufi branch of Islam (4) The rise and fall of the influence of the Islamic world over history, (5) The Ottoman empire, and (6) How the current nations of the Middle East came to be.
Although much longer, this book was light years better than "Islam: A Short Introduction".
The only downside to the book was trying to juggle all of the Middle Eastern names, which can be difficult. Although not a "downside" in the traditional sense, I did feel that the author may have shown some bias in describing some of the Arab/Israeli conflicts of the past century.
All in all - very highly recommended. Definitely something worthy of multiple listens.
First off let me say that going into this book I did not have a really good understanding of Arab or Muslim culture. Now that I'm done I feel like I got a really good basis with which to understand these cultures.
This book doesn't explain in-depth the rise and fall of specific governments and nations, but rather details and profiles the peoples that populated them. It dives into the religious and social development in the Muslim countries. At this point I feel like I need to read a lot more books on more specific histories.
My only real critique of this book is that it's hard to keep all of the terminology straight in my head (Thank goodness for Wikipedia). It was really easy to zone out to this audiobook. The way it was written made it hard to pick back up and figure out what had been going on.
Probably the biggest plus of this book is that it doesn't feel like it's written from a western perspective. I would highly recommend this book as a good dive-in immersion experience.
The book offers an admirable sweep of the Arab world's history. Slightly academic in style, and thus a little dense, but, nevertheless, well worth the listen. The text offers an overall positive outlook of the Arab peoples' accomplishments through the centuries - critics may argue: "respectable, but a little too positive." Judge for yourself.
Albert Hourani was recommended by my Arabic instructor as being reputable in both the Arab and Western Worlds. This exhaustive work is not for the casual student. You must have a keen interest in Arabic history and be willing to listen to a text book style read. I will most likely purchase the printed version to add it to my personal library. I would recommend listening to the works of Bernard Lewis first. They are much easier to digest. For a more biased, but not necessarily untrue perspective, check out the works of Robert Spencer.
The reader unfortunately matches the somber, dry and somewhat tedious and encyclopedic approach to the subject developed by the author. Nevertheless, the interesting and important subject and the scholarship of the author make the book worth listening to, at least until a better introduction to the subject comes along.
Mr. Hourani, does the arab peoples a disservice by placing their origen at the 7th century. A rich and distant heritage should not be ignored. This book would be more aptly titled A History of the Islamic Faith. It is shallow and without the slightest color attributed to its cover. Mostly a long disertation on lineage of leadership. Difficult to get excited about.
Its hard not to approach Middle East studies without one bias or another, but after finishing A Concisce History of the Middle East and other titles that appeared to (forgive my bluntness) give an Islamic fundamentalist version of events in the Arab world, I was overjoyed to hear the more balanced treatment of the subject by Mr. Hourani. For example, Mr. Hourani gives us differing versions of stories surrounding the prophet's early angelic visitation, explains why many Hadiths may not be reliable accounts of Muhammads life and explores the probable links between Sufism and Eastern monasticism. All aspects that many Middle East hitories simply ignore. More importantly, the Author's ability to tie individual life stories from all over the Muslim world into the larger historical narrative made the sory so much more personable.
While the incredible amount of information and fair perspective provided in this historical account put it far above many other availiable titles, the general organization of this book leaves much to be desired. In many chapters, the narrative without warning jumps between historical events, geographical elements, sociological analysis and philosophical discourse. I often found it almost impossible to stay involved as within 10 minutes the narrative switched from Algerian architecture to politics in Tunisia Lybia, and then morroco. This is something that A Concise history of the Middle East does much better.
Nadia May gives a generally good narration, but it seems she caught a cold sometime during the production.
In conclusion this is a book that requires several listens and probably a few other supplemental audiobooks on Middle East history to really understand. I think its worth the effort, but I wish the information was better organized.
The reader does the best she can with the material, but it is as if she were reading a textbook. As far as the material is concerned, it presumes that the listener will be familiar with places and naming conventions based on a brief disclaimer in the preface. I really wanted to finish this book, but only got about half way through the second part of the three part download before giving up.
It is a bad book.
I bought this tape in the hope of hearing what actually "happened" in the history of Arabic people. Instead, the author spends majority of time on what various Arabic figures had "said" / "written" on a number of issues, and most of those Arabic people quotations / opinions are to the effect of depicting an idealized good society. Aha, but that is NOT what had happened at ground level, and the author did not talk about what had happened anyway.
This is probably another example of that their deed does not match up to their talk.
A waste of my hard earned money, as well as the genuin curiosity of a student from China.
I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.
There has been such emphasis on religious doctrine, exclusively the Muslim faith, that almost every other discipline seems to have been disregarded in Arab countries. I found the book monotonous and depressing.
"A History that should have been abridged!"
This is one of the dullest most turgid works of history that I have yet come across. How many times the reader, Nadia May, must have fallen asleep I don?t know!
The author has taken out too large a canvass for his work; he lacks the judgement to distinguish the detail that may be of interest a lay audience or perhaps the nature of this work did not lend itself to any audience but an academic one?
Not for the general reader.
Nadia May was a bad choice. The book which a popular one (and the topic most interesting) was made boring and even somewhat confusing. The narrator should have had a better grasp of Arabic, at the least, as there is no shortage of Arab speakers with native English language proficiency!!
Great book, sympathetically read.
"Comprehensive, easy-to understand"
This text really did cover all possible bases. I was particularly impressed with how it managed to convey a picture of life for ALL kinds of Arab peoples. In terms of the recording, the text probably doesn't translate that well to audio, which is why some negative reviews seem to have emerged. I thought, however, that the reader did a perfect job of animating complex language in a very listenable way.
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