Reviews of A Concise History of the Arabs


‘Even those who are familiar with the story of the Arabs will find this new history thrilling and poignant, woven with a layered texture of knowledge and empathy that deftly stitches familiar figures into the narrative in a fresh way. It is no small feat to compress the fourteen centuries from the dawn of Islam to the new Arab Awakening into such an effortless read’ —David Gardner, International Affairs Editor, Financial Times, and author of Last Chance: the Middle East in the Balance

‘This concise, brilliant and erudite book is the product of wide reading, hard thinking and years of direct experience of the Middle East. The author, an international lawyer and Arabist, has managed to throw fresh light on 1,400 years of Arab history from the Prophet Muhammad to the Arab Spring. There are lively and informative insights on almost every page’ —Patrick Seale, author of Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East

‘A lucid and highly readable history of the Arab peoples up to the present day. John McHugo has managed to show, with compassion, a good deal of humour and unerring historical judgment, the power of the ideas and the forces that have shaped what we now think of as the Arab world. In doing so, McHugo has provided a way of understanding this complex and ongoing story that will enlighten all who read it’ —Charles Tripp, author of The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East

‘A valuable introduction to Arab history…Recommended for anyone wishing to learn about the multifaceted history of the Arab world and its relevance to modern day affairs’ —Benjamin BieblAsian Affairs

‘Highly readable…Ideal for novices, it is also a useful and exciting read for those who have read much about the area but never had the whole story summer up in a single volume’ — Sally BlandJordan Times

‘Lucid and erudite…The debunking of the so-called “clash of civilisations” -a loaded and generally lazy term – emerges as absolutely central to McHugo’s concise historical survey’ —Nick March, The National (UAE)

‘Purposeful, insightful and tremendously useful, complete with an excellent bibliographical essay’ —Kirkus

‘Gets to the point with authority, insight and grace to provide the essential political contexts for understanding the ongoing developments in today’s Arab world’ —History Book Club

‘A valuable and rewarding work…highly recommended’ —Paul Starkey, Bulletin of the British Foundation for the study of Arabia

‘Provides substantial help in understanding the political developments in the Middle East, including the Arab Spring’ —Michael Fitzgerald, The Tablet

‘[An] elegant work of history. It is an introductory history for newcomers to the field, but it still manages to take up some of the most significant debates without making them banal. This combination makes this book one of the more recommendable introductions to Arab history’ —Journal of Peace Research

‘Timely…McHugo succeeds in producing a clear, elegant and fully-sourced account of the sweep of Arab history from the birth of Muhammad to the military coup that overthrew the government of the Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi…The value of McHugo’s book is enhanced by the richness of its references and fullness of its bibliography’ —Susannah Tarbush, The Tanjara

‘This is a concise historical survey of Arab history from the early Islamic period to our day, including Western-Arab and Western-Muslim encounters … A well-written, original and stimulating introduction to the Arab world’ —Gilbert Achcar, author of The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives

‘Vivid and engaging … invaluable for those seeking to understand the depth and complexity of the contemporary issues in the Arab world’ —Joy Gordon, author of Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions