HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Arabs from the Birth of Mohammed to the Rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser: A Narrative History of the Arab World Told in Terms of Its Leaders
Author: Anthony Nutting
Publisher: New American Library, republished in 1965
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Nutting, Anthony. The Arabs from the Birth of Mohammed to the Rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser: A Narrative History of the Arab World Told in Terms of Its Leaders (published in 1964 by Clarkson N. Potter Inc., 23 E. 67th St., New York City, NY 10021; republished in 1965 by The New American Library Inc., 1301 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10019). When I was at the University of Akron (1970s), the powers that be determined that to graduate all students had to have at least three quarters of non-Western culture. One of the cultures I chose was Middle Eastern. The two books that we used for texts were The Arabs by Anthony Nutting and Islam by Alfred Guillaume. Author Nutting, a noted Arab scholar, English diplomat, and writer perhaps best remembered for his biography of Lawrence of Arabia, was Minister of State for Foreign Affairs under British Prime Minister Anthony Eden. He resigned his ministerial post in protest against Eden’s agreement with France and Israel to attack Nasser’s Egypt in 1956 during the Suez incident, so he might be considered somewhat sympathetic to the Arabs. Both Islam and The Arabs contain lots of historical information, but while the former emphasizes religion, the latter focuses primarily on the social and political ramifications.
This is a well written, comprehensive history of the Middle East up to the mid 1960s. After an opening chapter on “The Arab World Before Islam,” Nutter, who is uniquely qualified to interpret the passionate and controversial history of the Arabs, depicts the Arab world through its leaders, great and corrupt, famous and infamous, beginning with the birth of the Prophet in ca. 570/571 A.D., through the eras of Arabian conquest, the Omayyad dynasty in Damascus, the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad, the Moors in Spain, the empire building Saladin, and the Turks, to the overthrow of colonialism and the rise of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, the hero and prophet of modern Arabism. Again, I must point out that while we’re being told that Islam is a religion of peace, the Journal of International Affairs calls even this book a “bloody chronicle” that “describes the fiery conquests and struggles” of the Islamic Arabs.