Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Arabs in History” as Want to Read:
The Arabs in History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Arabs in History

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  235 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Now brought completely up to date, this classic study by one of the world's premier historians of the Middle East considers the achievement of the Arab peoples and their place in world history, from pre-Islamic times to the present-day. In a concise and readable account, Lewis examines the awakening that accompanied the advent of Islam and the political, religious, and ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 23rd 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1950)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Arabs in History, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Arabs in History

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 21, 2014 William rated it really liked it
A concise overview of the Arabs, their history and culture, and their place in the world. This is a good companion volume to Lewis' "Constantinople and the Civilisation of the Ottoman Empire". This used to be the gold standard, but is a little dated now. That said, with first edition written in the 40s, it's nice to read a history of the Arabs not heavily flavoured by current conflicts and Western phobias and prejudices.
Richard G
Nov 27, 2011 Richard G rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
A good abbreviated insight into Arabs. One being the difficulty, how to define an Arab.
Jun 18, 2009 Kirill rated it really liked it
Very good detailed excursion into what can be called Arab history
Omar Taufik
Aug 28, 2016 Omar Taufik rated it really liked it
I would consider this book as a very good read. The author Bernard Lewis is one of most if not the very most famous on middle eastern history with his experience in the field stretching to more than six decades of book writing where this book writing date goes back to the year 1947 with several editions added reaching this final edition in the year 1992.
In this book the author wanted to examine certain basic issues; the place of the Arabs in human history, Arab identity, Arab achievements, chara
Sagheer Afzal
Aug 26, 2015 Sagheer Afzal rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book; concise and informative. Bernard Lewis accurately describes the evolution of the Arabs in history. What makes this book so special is the way the author conveys the mindset of people living at a particular time. He gives us an insight into the mind of the medieval Muslim and the medieval Christian. The revelation that nationalism and socialism were imported from the West came as a surprise to me. Bernard Lewis succinctly describes the ills facing modern Muslim society today and ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Bridget rated it really liked it
I read the third edition, published in 1956. As a contemporary work of the times, an amazing piece of research. Toward the end of the book, he summarizes Arab Islamic culture in a way that I hadn't put together before that, I think, is quite apt. 1) "...the unique assimilative power of Arab culture, often misrepresented as merely imitative." 2) "its comparative tolerance" 3) "Islam became during the lifetime of its founder the guiding code of an expanding and victorious community" 4) "the ...more
Paul Donahue
Apr 03, 2012 Paul Donahue rated it it was ok
If you're compiling a list of Driest Books of All Time, you have to consider this book. Interesting at times, but an overwhelming amount of information. It should be a ten-volume encyclopedia.

Main takeaways: a) the definition of Arab is somewhat fluid and has changed throughout history; b) Islam once conquered an area from the Iberian Peninsula (even into France) through North Africa all the way to India; c) somehow this is fine but the Crusades was not; d) Islam's resistance to other cultures a
Don Heiman
Sep 22, 2014 Don Heiman rated it it was amazing
My edition of "The Arabs in History" was published in 1966. The author, Bernard Lewis, was a Professor of History at the University of London. This is an exceptional book with a great bibliography and chronology of significant events in the history of Islam and Muslim nation building. It provides a remarkable background for understanding the underlying forces influencing today's civil war in Syria, war in Afghanistan, emergence of ISIS, and Iraq governance struggles after the fall of Saddam ...more
Ruhat alp
Sep 22, 2012 Ruhat alp rated it it was amazing
Bernard Lewis çok üretken ve İslam medeniyetini çok iyi tanıyan bir tarihçi.Türkiye dostu ve İslam uygarlığına karşı kısmen oryantalist önyargılardan arınmış biri.Fakat her ne kadar bu özelliklere sahip olsa da hem Yahudi olması hem de bir zamanlar Bush'un danışmanlığını yapması nedeniyle yine de dikkatle okunmalı.Çünkü iki özelliği de onun bilinç altında islamofobik birşeylerin olduğunun kanıtıdır kanımca.Ayrıca bu kitabında temel tezlerinden birisi, Abbasi ihtilalinin aslında iranlıların ...more
Austin Wright
Aug 26, 2014 Austin Wright rated it really liked it
I say this with a lot of Lewis' work....that I seem to lose interest by the last few chapters....regardless, this is a great work for people who might get confused by a Middle East History that emphasizes Iranian and Turkish elements (though they are crucial to understanding the Middle East).

Start here, if you're new to Lewis' work.
Oct 08, 2008 Samantha rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: news hounds, history buffs
Shelves: non-fic
A great read to understand why the Middle East is the way it is! Bernard Lewis is a great historian who explains Islam is easy to understand chapters. I used this text in a history class and recommend reading everything Lewis has written.
Molly Bartlett
May 08, 2016 Molly Bartlett rated it really liked it
Really well-written. Does not sacrifice accuracy for entertainment, nor the other way around. Would highly recommend for an overview of Arab history. I did wish that the author would have included footnotes, however.
Maria Zamora
Sep 28, 2008 Maria Zamora rated it really liked it
Good book if you want to increase your knowlodge more without pre-judging a culture just by thinking different as you do.
Mar 12, 2008 Natan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A very good and interesting book. I hope that people from the Western world who read it will have a better idea of who they're up against.
Sergio Vaccaro
Sergio Vaccaro rated it liked it
Nov 13, 2012
Lieb rated it did not like it
May 27, 2008
Jbondandrews rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2010
Minhaaj Rehman
Minhaaj Rehman rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2016
Ayesha rated it did not like it
Sep 18, 2015
Mohamed Lotfy
Mohamed Lotfy rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2016
Seth Woodley
Seth Woodley rated it liked it
Aug 18, 2012
Sorlasair rated it it was amazing
Feb 15, 2016
Ahlam AlWaheebi
Ahlam AlWaheebi rated it liked it
Feb 24, 2011
Arvin Gouw
Arvin Gouw rated it it was amazing
Oct 18, 2016
Mark rated it really liked it
May 29, 2011
Adriana rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2015
Sarah rated it liked it
Aug 08, 2015
Marisa rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2015
Ryan Fields
Ryan Fields rated it it was ok
Oct 21, 2014
Ben rated it liked it
Mar 16, 2007
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
  • When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty
  • Arab Historians of the Crusades
  • Honor, Patronage, Kinship Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture
  • On the Reliability of the Old Testament
  • Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire
  • The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West
  • Medieval Civilization 400-1500
  • In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran
  • Kublai Khan: The Mongol King Who Remade China
  • The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity
  • Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World
  • Hezbollah: A Short History
  • The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons
  • The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers
  • Journey into America
  • Night and Horses and the Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature
  • Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor
Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University and the author of many critially acclaimed and bestselling books, including two number one New York Times bestsellers: What Went Wrong? and Crisis of Islam. The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Internationally recognized a ...more
More about Bernard Lewis...

Share This Book

“The social institutions and attitudes inherited from earlier times and maintained with increasing rigidity made it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances or to create new political and economic institutions which would facilitate such an adaption. An attitude towards unbelievers that varied from condescension in good times, to hostility and mistrust in bad times, made it difficult to learn from them, or even to understand them, at a time when it was the West, and not as previously the Islamic world, that had something to teach.” 0 likes
“With few exceptions the pietists are assigned a minor role in the creation of the Arab Empire.” 0 likes
More quotes…