Since the book was published in 1958, the author is trying to explain the emergence of what at that point was a significant epochal political movementSince the book was published in 1958, the author is trying to explain the emergence of what at that point was a significant epochal political movement. There is no bio, but it seems that Zeine was a professor at the American University of Beirut. The significance of his study is that he charts the political movements at the twilight of the Ottoman Empire, and interviewed key players in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of the new Arab states, such as Faris Nimr Pasha, Faris el-Khuri, Sati' al-Husri, and others. One immensely annoying habit of the author is that he often quotes French sources, without translating them... it seems downright stupid not to just offer the author's own translation, even just in the notes at the end. Another oddity is the cover design, which is not explained anywhere and which has a strong resemblance to the fascist SSNP logo.
He begins by laying out the beginnings of the Ottoman Empire in Arab lands, and how the ethnicity of the Turks did not matter. They were seen as Muslims, and there was no national feeling in Arab lands, so the shared religion was "the cardinal element in Arab-Turkish relations for nearly 4 centuries." The focus on religion was a useful technique to ideologically unite very different peoples from the Atlantic to Persia, and from the gates of Vienna to Sudan. He then briefly discusses the Ottoman political system, how the sharia law was applied and how the provinces and states were organized. He notes that due to the Ottoman system of *millets* (from the arabic word for "creed", millah), "individuals of the same race under the influence of different religious ideas are separated in distinct groups which are rightly called Nations.." Thus, "in the French Correspondances Diplomatiques concerning the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire, there are many references to "la nation maronite", "la nation Grecque catholique"... The idea of nationality in the West European 19th century sense was almost no-existent in the Ottoman Empire."
After this the author tracks the rise of anti-Turkish sentiment, and argues that the role of the Christian missionaries in the rise of Arab Awakening has been "greatly exaggerated". He continuously puts down the arguments of previous authors, notably George Antonius. Antonius had declared in The Arab Awakening (1939), that Muhammad Pasha and Ibrahim Pasha had set out to create a pan-Arab nation. Zeine says this is not true. Antonius greatly elevated the Christian missionaries and schools for their role in Arab political fomentation, Zeine says this is exaggerated. Antonius said that the secret societies that sprung up in the late 1800s and early 1900s were pivotal movements in the rise of Arab Nationalism amongst the elite and intellectual classes. Zeine says this too is exaggerated. He calls Nagib Azoury's 1905 work "Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe" as representative of "extremists among the Arab nationalists". A manifesto by the Arabian National Committee he describes as written with "much exaggeration and a great flight of imagination". (p. 62)
Zeine's dismissal of Antonius' arguments and the maximalist descriptions of Arab nationalism is not convincing at all. He spends less time making these dismissals than the original authors spent defending them. Instead, Zeine argues that Arab nationalism began precisely in 1909 and was completely a reaction to the right-wing nationalism of C.U.P, or the Young Turks. They sparked an ethnocentric Turkish nationalist movement that had never existed before, very similar to ethnocentric nationalist movements in Europe. It was aggressively anti-Islamic and anti-Arab, a "Back to Paganism movement" that used the imagery, rhetoric, and symbolism of a mythologized and romanticized "pure Turkish" past. Zeine contrasts the dramatic change between the traditional pan-Islamism that the Ottoman Empire had used for centuries, and this new aggressive nationalism, quoting a periodical by a principle pan-Turanian society 'Turk Ojagi': "That monstrous figment of imagination which is known as the Community of Islam, and which has for long past stood in the way of present progress generally, and of the realization of the principles of Turanian Unity in particular, has now entered on a phase of decline and ruin..." p.79 Zeine then spends time discussing the rise of Arab nationalism as a reaction to CUP, but makes it clear that the Arab secret societies at first did not call for the fall of the Empire, but simply for a bi-racial monarchy like the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, or for more autonomy in their own regions. Zeine then argues that the 2nd major factor in increasing Arab nationalism was the savage crackdown by Djemal Pasha in the Levant. The public hangings in Beirut and Damascus of Arab elites and intellectuals was a turning point. The 3rd factor, was the Allied encouragement, military and monetary support in stoking Arab nationalism to defeat the Ottomans in WW1.
That is the extent of Zeine's study, and the bulk of this short book focuses on CUP and the policies of the last 2 Ottoman Sultans. Not a single figure of Arab nationalism is mentioned in detail, nor any documents or groups studied. The secret Arab nationalist societies like al-Fatat and others are simply mentioned in passing. The short length of the book and its bias towards generalities hurts its overall appeal. In the conclusion Zeine argues that Arab race-consciousness began with Islam and always existed in the minds of Arabs, and that it was simply the actions of CUP and the European colonial powers that drove them to seek their own nation, an ambition that was then thwarted by the Sykes-Picot Agreement and Balfour Declaration. As a book, this is purely a brief examination of some CUP policies with regards to Arabs, no more, and the author makes great effort to defend the Empire up until the advent of CUP. As an examination of Arab nationalism it is utterly dwarfed by the work of Bassam Tibi. ...more
After reading several of Chomsky's books, I have more and more respect for this author and thinker. He is a meticulous historian and political analystAfter reading several of Chomsky's books, I have more and more respect for this author and thinker. He is a meticulous historian and political analyst, and his critics should read his works before attacking him.
This book is a compendium of facts, figures, quotes, and analysis that comprise the truth behind the complicated politics of the Middle East. Chomsky is an honorable follower to the likes of Orwell, and cuts through all the media campaigns, falsehoods, lies, and general misinformation pertaining to the Middle East and its conflicts.
The book is a tough read, and is more like a disgorgement of information from a mind that has researched the topic at hand for years with meticulous effort. Around half of the book follows general Israeli policy and politics, as well as Palestinian politics and American foreign policy. The other half is about these policies as they pertain to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and Chomsky knows his stuff, there is no doubt about that. Every claim, every statement, every quote, and every fact is scrupulously cited. He is not in the business of convincing or converting, he is distinctly in the business of telling the truth the best he can.
As for the people who question why they should read this book, as much of it is about an old war, and old politics? My answer is because it is important. Without this knowledge how can you possibly have an opinion regarding the on goings in the Middle East? These facts and the figures in the political scene were the same as they are now. To understand the conflicts, you must give this book a read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. This book should be required reading in all of the West....more
I love Aalto's work, but this book was just dry.[return]I give it 3.5 only because it's meant to be an inexpensive introduction to Aalto's work, and iI love Aalto's work, but this book was just dry.[return]I give it 3.5 only because it's meant to be an inexpensive introduction to Aalto's work, and it is inexpensive..but the writing is just dry. You really get nothing from the articles about the buildings..but it is a nice intro to the architect's life and it does showcase a few of his best works...albeit in a dry manner..[return][return]If you aren't really interested in his work, this is perfect for you.[return]But if you want a decent look into some of his buildings and materials and philosophy, then your going to have to splurge a little...more
The last 2 chapters were disappointing.[return]In the last one he makes a quick 10 page conclusion of everything that I thought was just poor;[return]The last 2 chapters were disappointing.[return]In the last one he makes a quick 10 page conclusion of everything that I thought was just poor;[return]I have a feeling he had a deadline to meet and those last 10 pages he regurgitated the night before it was due.[return]All in all,[return]it was interesting, but very, very dense. I would say university history class level.[return]I would say that I know more now on the history than I did before, but there was such a huge mass of information that you really need to stick to this book and not stop for too long or you'll just forget everything.[return][return]Despite the poor conclusion, he did say something interesting there:[return]Basically he said that the current system was never meant for Arabia.[return]The Europeans had concurred the world, and the last place to concur was the Middle East.[return]They had concurred America, north and south,[return]Australia, New Zealand, east Asia, Africa...[return]Everything was colonized by them.[return]They believed in this secular nation-state, which worked in Europe, but had never been introduced to the Middle East.[return]First Islam conquered the whole area, and [return]then the ottomans took over for 700 years.[return]Also, the fact that all the leaders were put in place by the English and French meant that the local people had no faith in their politicians, and didn't understand their borders.[return]For example, the Saudi-Jordanian border is the site of where Ibn Saud tried to invade what is now Jordan,[return]but Jordan had king Abdullah, put in place by the English, so the English sent airplanes and tanks and armored vehicles and massacred Ibn Saud's bedouins.[return]They did this to save face. They could not have their puppet being killed or crushed. It would simply make the Brits look weak.[return]The site of that battle became the border of Jordan and Saudi Arabia:[return]hence the names, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.[return]Basically 2 local dynastic tribal leaders tried to adapt to this European idea of nation-states and took their areas of control and turned them into countries.[return]So basically what I think he was trying to say in his conclusion was that that form of government was never meant for the Middle East and won't last long.[return]He was saying that the Europeans underestimated the only unifying factor in Arabia, which was Islam.[return]They would never have believed that a bunch of wahhabi bedouins could invade the hejaz, or that the muslim brotherhood would be so strong today, or the Afghani mujahedeen, or the shia revolution in Iran...[return] [return]He also said that it was like Europe in the 5th century[return]the roman empire crumbled and then Europe spent 1000 years warring against each other trying to find a comfortable solution, and it evolved this idea of secular nation states.[return]Anyway, I came off with the feeling that the English and the French screwed up everything, and have the blood of millions of deaths on their hands, and that the countries that exist today are sad jokes.[return]The whole area was part of Greater [return]Syria for 2 weeks. All the Arabs there united under 1 government right in between Egypt and Iran.[return]And I think that's how it should end one day.[return][return][return]So to summarize:[return]Pros:[return][return]Good book.[return]Dense[return]Well researched[return][return]Cons:[return][return]As one reviewer mentioned, too euro-centric for a book about the Middle-East.[return]The part on Ibn Saud taking the Hejaz and naming himself king, for example, was about 2 pages long![return]Also, he seems to quickly mention things that were of utmost importance, such as Ibn Saud collecting vast amounts of money from the British. He does not connect the dots here, because what this means is that Ibn Saud would have had little money to pay his troops and to buy weapons if the British had not payed him off as handsomely as they did, and hence, the world would not know a Wahhabi Saudi Kingdom in control of Islam's two holiest cities. And that, is something worth a chapter or two....more
This was an excellent, well researched book. It was full of history, which added context to the discussion of the dialects, and despite being a speakeThis was an excellent, well researched book. It was full of history, which added context to the discussion of the dialects, and despite being a speaker, I found it full of new information. Personally, I enjoyed most the parts on the mass bedouin migrations to Egypt and the Maghreb, the story of the Banu Hilal and the Banu Sulaym, and the great amount of information on Bedouin migrations, which help explain how certain characteristics spread.[return]A basic knowledge of Arabic is definitely required, or it will be a tedious book to complete, and I would also say that a knowledge of linguistics would also be helpful, as the book is filled with linguistic terminology such as dipthongs, verbo-nominal compounds, infinitives, suffixes, subjunctives, etc. It would have been useful to have a glossary at the end.[return]The only drawback of the book is that all of the Arabic is transliterated into English. I would have found the book much easier if the words had been left in Arabic. For the next edition, I would recommend keeping the words in Arabic, and adding footnotes to the bottom of the page with the English transliterations for those who need them.[return]All in all, an excellent non-Arab study into the language.[return][return]A-...more
This book is, without a doubt, a seminal work on Middle Eastern architecture.
Its focus, fortunately, is not on the plethora of Western companies and aThis book is, without a doubt, a seminal work on Middle Eastern architecture.
Its focus, fortunately, is not on the plethora of Western companies and architects doing work in the Middle East (although it does mention these), but on local architects that are mostly unknown in the West, despite years of amazing work.
The names include Hassan Fathy, Mohamed Saleh Makiya, Rasem Badran, Rifat Chadirji, Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil, Kamal El-Kafrawi, and many others. He also covers the many excellent buildings designed by Western architects who have shown a sensitivity to the locale.
What I found most impressive about the book is Kultermann's focus on local traditions and the cultures that spawned them, as well as his disdain for the international architecture that has no connection to the past or to the people it is designed for.
For someone with little knowledge of the architectural traditions of the Middle East, this is an invaluable introduction. For Arab architects looking for inspiration from their predecessors, this book contains many projects and images as creative fodder.
It is rare when reading a book to feel as if the author has spent years in research, and still has a burning passion for the topic he is writing about.
The only drawback of this book is that it is from 1999, and I think a new edition with an extra chapter or two on the myriad of recent projects in the Gulf states, with Kultermann's unique perspective, is in order.
Sadly, I think that he would be devastated at the current state of architectural projects in the Middle East, which is why every prospecting client should read this book before they begin a project....more