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The Arabs: Journeys Beyond the Mirage

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  204 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The Arabs is widely considered one of the essential books for understanding the Middle East and the peoples who live there. David Lamb, who spent years as a correspondent in Cairo, explores the Arabs’ religious, political, and cultural views, noting the differences and key similarities between the many segments of the Arab world. He explains Arab attitudes and actions tow ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published June 22nd 2011 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good introduction to the study of Arabic people. The emphasis is on contemporary Arab life and times, with a little history thrown in, and a good deal of time spent on politics, wars, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lamb is a reporter who spent 5 years covering the Middle East for the L.A. Times. The book was written in 1985, so much of what is in here is way past current, but it still makes for informative reading.

The pervasiveness and supremacy of Islam in Arab life is discussed here.
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently returned from Morocco, I picked this up and had a hard time putting it down. I had never before been to a predominantly Muslim country and what I encountered was more different than I could have imagined.

I was with a group of faculty from U.S. colleges and universities, and we attended a series of lectures and site visits. I was struck when one of the speakers described the importance of not rocking the boat. If someone didn't agree with a certain practice or religious ideal, he
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There can be no real separation of church and state because Islam is interwoven into every fabric and every moment of the Muslim’s life.

Lamb does a wonderful job of giving a real sense of who the Arabs actually are, and why and what made them that way. He gives details of the Middle East conflict, the roots of terrorism, Islam, and many specifics about certain Arab leaders and the lives they led/lead. I would highly recommend this in order to understand that American views on the Arab world are,
I found this book by accident as I was looking for books on the Middle East. The title alone "The Arabs: Journeys Beyond the Mirage" suggested I would be in for a look at the mindset and culture behind the Arab people and culture - something I have been eager for due to my recent relocation to the Gulf. Little did I know that by "Arabs", the title meant "Egypt".

The book devoted 75% of its pages to the history and plight of Egypt which the author substantiates by reminding us that Egyptians comp
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an Arab, I knew this was going to be a sad read about the history of my home. And surely, it was. The complex history combined with the rapid development of the Arab world is certainly interesting from a political and sociological point of view.

The author has done a tremendous amount of research and has spoken to and interviewed some of the most powerful and important people in the region from Iraq's Hussein to Bahraini ministers.

I enjoyed and was frustrated by reading this book. It begs th
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
I so appreciated this book, and yes the author did have an unbaised outlook, as much as possible.
What I really loved about the book, is his love and passion for the people he met and interviewed.
And that he visited and commented on each Arab country, the beginnings, politics, the people and obviously how oil changed those countries.
I do know a lot have changed in the time of his writing of his book, but that is why I love reading these books, like Thesinger's travels, before all the wealth and t
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While visiting Egypt (albeit in one of the most touristy spots near Sharm El Sheik), I really wanted to learn more about the modern Arab world. Kicking back on a sun lounge, with the Sinai mountains directly behind me, I found this book not only informative but highly entertaining. David Lamb is a journalist, not a historian, which means he doesn't just focus on the facts - he actually met and spoke with a lot of the characters in the world of Arab politics, and describes his experiences subject ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book is a bit dated, I found it to be fairly comprehensive and insightful about the region and people that we hear so much about on the news. I would be interested to see what David Lamb thinks/knows about the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war, given that he predicted the Egyptian and Libyan revolutions in the book.

I thought Lamb's accounts seemed unbiased, and he was able to provide the historical background that is so necessary to begin to understand events and culture of the Mid
Adam White
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very eye-opening book written by a journalist who spent many years in several different Middle Eastern countries. I knew relatively little about Arab culture and society before I read this book, but after finishing this book I feel like I can start to understand both how similar and different the Middle East is from the Western world.

Particularly refreshing about this book is the way Lamb wrote about interaction and relations with Israel and the West without couching everything in "Ar
Jan 26, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a lot of insights, but the final table of countries and capital cities erroneously lists Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel; and the book starts with a statement that the Israeli embassy officials sat with him for hours, answering his questions and offering more information. Obviously, he wasn't hearing anything that was related to his purpose. As a perspective of Arabs, Sadaam Hussein, Nasralla, and other figures in the 1980s, it's a great find. Its chapter on Israel/Palestine (The ...more
Ray Grasshoff
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you could pick one book for a quick, easily readable, insightful view of Arab culture and viewpoints, and of Islam as well, this one has got to be a candidate. Author David Lamb, a foreign correspondent at the time, wrote this several years before the fall of the Soviet Union and more than a decade prior to 9-11. Much has changed since those two events, but much also remains the same. His experiences in the Arab world and the understanding he gained of it are as vital today as they were then.
Brad Snyder
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great introductory reading to introduce someone to the modern Middle East. The methodology in which David Lamb organizes the book, is in a very easy to read format. Extremely informative and educational!
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good review of all of the Arab countries, their history, culture, religions, etc. This was another of the books about the middle east that have helped me learn about them and the background behind the current struggles.
Aaron Wertlieb
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book if you want to get a basic understanding of the people and the culture as it travels across a huge geographic area.
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Really great overview of Arab history, culture, and tensions. I wish it were more current, but it's still useful.
Judith S.
These are people we need to know.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative, but dated.
Lisa Sansone
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this book very much. It's a little out of date, but still very informative, objective and easy to read.
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not bad. Some insight.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A good read if you are expecting repertoire collection of anecdotes and personal experiences related to Egypt (specifically Cairo), Dubai and Saudi arabia.
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and educational.
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why: It's been on the shelf for years next to The Africans, an excellent book of African anecdotes, and I needed some books for beach week.
Review: Excellent review of the Middle East up to 1984
Wade Heninger
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great overview...
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David Lamb's work has appeared in numbers publications, from National Geographic to Sports Illustrated. He has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, an Alicia Patterson Fellow and a wrier-in-residence at the University of Southern California. Lamb is the author of six books on subjects as diverse as Africa and minor league baseball. His most recent book is "Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns". He is a me ...more
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