Saturday, September 23, 2006

Albert Hourani

I recently bought Albert Hourani's,"A History of the Arab peoples" and I must say I'm impressed. It's far from comprehensive, but the task Hourani has attempted is enormous and he can be excused. The structure in the book was a bit confusing at first, but I eventually got comfortable with it's style. Hourani, rather than going for a simple chronological account of what happened, also groups together certain events in a period with a theme, from a sociological, cultural or political point of view.

One other thing I noticed, is Hourani's style. He inserts a few nuggets in the text which are easy to miss, but I found quite descriptive and eloquent. Here is one phrase which I particularly liked, though I had in mind the United States and it's clients in the region.

"power is not comfortable unless it can turn itself into legitimate authority"

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