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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2019 Tim Mackintosh-Smith (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Good book bad narration

It’s a shame (almost a disgrace) that the narrator doesn’t speak a word of Arabic and completely butchers the pronunciations of countless names, places, and things. It takes away from the story and makes it very difficult to understand some of the messages.

7 people found this helpful

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Blah blah blah...

I keep waking up thinking, "get to the point!" The foreword had better not be an indication of the rest of the book. There's a metric ton of hyperbole here. It seems like there might be some facts in here someplace. But the author seems to be thinking out loud and trying out the different ways of saying each thought. Where the hell was the editor?!?! Will there be any coherent narrative at all? More as I slog through this.

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interesting and eyeopening

loved it and couldnt put it down. my only comment goes towards taking a biased approach on islams influence not giving it its right on how it transformed the peninsula as well as a few other points when it comes to regional politics .. overall an interesting read

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Excellent Prose

The language of this book is absolutely incredible, and certainly represents its strong point. The author makes repeated points about the poetry of Arabic and it has trickled through to his English, as this is a history full of rhyme, simile, and alliteration,that makes for fun reading. As far as the actual story goes, this book is much more a cultural history than a narrative one, which was a little disappointing to me, as the history between the fall of the Abbasids and the rise of nations is glossed over as un-arab. I think there's a tad too much hand wringing over what is and isn't truly Arab. The narrator is excellent, however, and I find everything clear and conversational.

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this is textbook reading

this is not a light read, and unless you know something about what he is talking about you will find this a bit of a challenge. I learned, but it's not good for an audible experience.

2 people found this helpful

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"Well Said and Very Interesting about the Arabs"

I love listening to this book, because it reminds of my own Middle Eastern roots in a way. And how the narrator stated, is very true that the Arabs have been around in the Middle East for as long as any other group, such as the Jews, Assyrians, or even the Persians. Keep up the good work.

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Monumental, erudite, illuminating.

A work of remarkable erudition and breadth and depth; a historian’s philological Odyssey that weds the storyteller’s gift to the wordsmith’s magic, and not without the wit of a Bernard Lewis or the lyrical charm of an Elie Kedourie. 3000 years of history is intimidating. This book makes it approachable, memorable, and fun. A veritable philological and historical feat otherwise, the author’s superficial (and borderline jaundiced) treatment of Israel weakens the narrative. But I suppose he had to somehow palliate the Arabists in a history that remains otherwise sober, dispassionate, and unsentimental about “Arabs” (without the definite article.) I just bought the hard copy because this one is a keeper and a much needed to histories of “Arabs” that largely remain in the realmS of apologia and fairytales.

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You dont know the Arabs Until youve developed a command of this book

Hell of a work Tim M-S has done all of us a favor in creating this powerful body of knowledge.

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A great inside book from a real historian

the author knowledge of Arabic language made him explore the deep meaning of slogans and poem as well intellectual debuts in the Arab world It’s indeed rare to find a western author write that deep about the Arabian history I Totally recommend this book

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Excellent overview of the complexity and contradiction of the “Arabs”

Excellent overview of the community complex socio-economic, political and religious history and ciultural identity of the Arab speaking world.

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  • Rhys
  • 06-07-19

The best book I've bought on Audible.

This is, to date, the best book I've purchased on Audible. So much so that I will pick up a hard copy companion as well. The book is written extremely well, it is a brilliant history of the Arab peoples, lands, language, and culture. It is respectful, whilst maintaining academic rigour. I would most certainly recommend it to anyone with even the faintest interest in the region. The book also contains ample humour, I laughed aloud several times while listening, and several times further when reading passages I've found in online samples. That brings me to the narrator, who also may be one of the best narrators I've listened to. He manages to carry all the intonation, humour, and emphasis perfectly. Overall, I can not recommend this highly enough.

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  • Ed L
  • 01-08-20

Great historical overview of ‘Arab’ history

Excellent overview of ‘Arab’ peoples history over 3000 years. Audio could’ve been better by correct pronunciations of Arabic names and terms.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Paul M Major
  • 08-05-19

A deep insight.

A good book for anyone wanting an understanding of the Middle East and the role of Islam in its evolution.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Khan
  • 09-29-19

absolutely amazing!!!

loved it thoroughly! perhaps the most powerful book on Arab (&Islamic) history. would definitely recommend!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Angus
  • 06-15-19

Fantastic account of an often overlooked period

I tried to find a book which would give me more detail of the prelude, rise and explosive expansion of early Islam, this book fitted perfectly with what I was looking for. The latter periods were also very interesting but I feel that the account of pre 1000 CE Arabs was the strongest part of the book.

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  • Marwan Ali
  • 10-20-20

Interesting read of the writer opinion

The book had allot of stories about the past. As an Arab i do recognize what the writer is trying to convey, and agree with many of the conclusions. However i think the book closing neglects the fact that a united Arab world is not in the interest of today's powers. This contributes to the instability. A sum up, a good read, but keep in mind that it is from the percpective of the author and is not necessarily accurate.

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  • Hashi
  • 10-09-20

Best Historic Book Ever Written About The Arabs.

This book answered hundreds of historical questions that i had about arabs. In addition to that the writer wrote the book based on historical facts rather than oriental based opinion. Tim Mackintosh Smith indeed produced the best historical book ever written about the arabs.

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  • Thirsty hippo
  • 06-12-20

Excellent

Fascinating account of Arab history. Answered many questions I had about region and people as an interested lay person, from Arab world's brief renaissance, the abandonment of that promise, what defines Arabness and the long disunity of region to its current malaise and finally it's challenge for the future. A great book and very well narrated.

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  • D. N. Frew
  • 05-30-20

fascinating guide to "The Arabs"

I discovered there was never a coherent group of Arabs that thought of themselves as a "one" or a people. always divided by tribe and lifestyle, does not bode well for a happy future.

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  • Seb
  • 01-31-20

Thank you Tim

Deep, broad, sympathetic and authentic history of a people, a disunity of tribes. Long but well read.