An Abridged History Gleaned From Years Of Military Service As Commander Of The Arab Legion I ve said it before but will say it again sometimes history is just so damn interesting This is an excellent book for anyone to get grounded on the Arab peoples from 600 AD to the 1950 s, although I thought the Ottoman era did not receive sufficient attention One of Glubb s main themes is that the West is not taught about the 5 centuries from 600 AD to 1100 AD, with Europe cut off from the world The Arabs owned the Mediterranean and the land from the Mahgreb to Afghanistan, a barrier to the I ve said it before but will say it again sometimes history is just so damn interesting This is an excellent book for anyone to get grounded on the Arab peoples from 600 AD to the 1950 s, although I thought the Ottoman era did not receive sufficient attention One of Glubb s main themes is that the West is not taught about the 5 centuries from 600 AD to 1100 AD, with Europe cut off from the world The Arabs owned the Mediterranean and the land from the Mahgreb to Afghanistan, a barrier to the trade and intermixing that was a part of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine erason this later We in the West like to think our heritage and history was passed down directly from the Greeks and Romans but it was the Arab civilizations that formed the bridge between medieval Europe and the earlier periods The Arab peoples added to the Greco Roman knowledge base while passing it on Glubb attributes the failure to teach this history to fear of the Arabs even into the Renaissance and a desire to play down any contribution from outside the Western Canon I think he is mostly right I don t remember any significant history from the age of Constantine until the Crusades Algebra and Arabic numerals are just about the only contributions generally acknowledged.A Short History of the Arab Peoples gets 4 Stars and a permanent place on the history shelf This book is a series of small chapters, each covering a time period and a geographical area An outstanding part of each chapter is a map pertinent to the topic, showing key movements, boundaries and battles along with a genealogy of rulers and the names of key players For example, the map of the Middle East as the Abbasid dynasty begins to disintegrate and the Byzantine Empire regains military prowess view spoiler hide spoiler Glubb begins with a brief description of the world before Muhammad Glubb s obvious admiration for the Arabs does not generally interfere with his narrative For example, his description of Muhammad, does not only paint the Apostle of God as a holy person After Muhammed s first 12 years in Mecca, Glubb describes a man who becomes a power politician, wages war, arranges assassinations, condones slavery and founds a religious political system that endorses war Glubb is fond of the Arab attributes in the first 200 years, as the Islamic conquest moves out from the Arabian Peninsula Especially notable is the code of honor and chivalry, along with a sense of romance and the desire for individual freedom This made them ferocious warriors but also made them hard to rule or to cooperate for long Many revolts and uprisings occur Here is one episode where an upstart occupied Mecca The siege of Mecca lasted for eight months The Umaiyid commander, Hajj j ibn Yusuf had placed mangonels on the mountains which, on all sides, overhung the little desert town and a continual bombardment of rocks was maintained On 3rd October, 692, when further resistance was impossible, Abdulla ibn Zubair, sword in hand, sallied out alone against the Damascus army A missile struck him in the face and blood poured down his beard and clothes He paused for a moment, to recite in stentorian tones he was famous for the power of his voice these lines from a classical Arab poet No craven wounds our backs shall stain with shame,But down our breasts our glorious blood shall flow Then, moving forward again alone, he fell riddled with arrows Such were the ancient Arabs War and poetry were their joy Even in their endless and blood soaked feuds, they maintained noble spirit of courage, dignity and drama.A continuing theme of Glubb is that the spirit of freedom and the tribal codes of honor and chivalry were passed from the Arabic conquerors of Andalus, Sicily and lower Italy to France and Germany, to then be reflected in Western traditions A great example is this, when Richard Coeur de Lion comes to the aid of Jaffa, under assault by Salah al Din view spoiler The coastal plain had been reconquered from Tyre to Asqalon but the Muslims still held Beirut, which divided the southern Crusader territory from Tripoli and Antioch in the north Richard decided to join up the Crusader states by taking Beirut before he sailed for England No sooner had he marched away to the north than Saladin, on 27th July, 1192, threw himself on Jaffa with his whole army Richard had reached Acre when he heard of the attack on Jaffa Hastily embarking in some galleys with a few men, he arrived off Jaffa on 1st August to find that the town had been captured by the Muslims who were attacking the citadel Richard jumped overboard, waded up the beach and drove the surprised Muslims from the town Then emerging from the gates, he captured Saladin s camp and obliged him to take to flight On 5th August, the Muslims returned to the attack Richard had only a few hundred men, drawn up in a solid formation which the Turkmans were unable to break When their attacks petered out, Richard rode out single handed and defied the whole Muslim army, but no man dared to take up the challenge When the battle was over, Saladin sent the king a present of fresh fruit and cold drinks, chilled with snow brought from Mount Hermon. hide spoiler While the West and the current Arab peoples like to focus on the Crusades as a terrible time, the real blow to Arab civilization came from the east, the scourge of the Mongols Everyone, regardless of background, can weep for slaughter of the people and the destruction of centuries of learning and culture when the Mongols took Baghdad view spoiler On 18th January, 1258, Hulagu s army arrived outside Baghdad, where it was joined by the Mongol garrison of Asia Minor Using large gangs of slave prisoners, the Mongols quickly surrounded the city with a continuous breastworks and ditch On 30th January, 1258, Hulagu opened a massive bombardment with his mangonels Within three days, the defences were in ruins On 5th February, the Mongols mounted a long stretch of the walls.Hulagu, thereupon, ordered the khalif s army to assemble on the plain outside the walls, where all were massacred On 10th February, the Khalif Mustasim gave himself up Hulagu ordered him to instruct the whole civil population to gather on the plain outside the walls, where they also were shot, slashed and hacked to death in heaps, regardless of age or sex Not until 13th February did the Mongols enter the city For a week, they had been waiting on the walls, not a man daring to leave his unit to plunder Such iron discipline, unknown in the Middle Ages, goes far to account for their invincibility The city was then systematically looted, destroyed and burnt Eight hundred thousand persons are said to have been killed The Khalif Mustasim was sewn in a sack and trampled to death under the feet of Mongol horses.For five hundred years, Baghdad had been a city of palaces, mosques, libraries and colleges Its universities and hospitals were the most up to date in the world Nothing now remained but heaps of rubble and a stench of decaying human flesh The Muslim world was thunderstruck at the news of the destruction of Baghdad and the murder of the khalif Hulagu, laden with incredible quantities of treasure, the wealth accumulated by the Abbasids over five centuries, marched away to Adharbaijan to rest and graze his horses. hide spoiler As I said, history is so fascinating Read the following passage without clicking on the spoilers When did this happen or is this an accurate description of someplace currently Then go back and see what and when this passage describes When the view spoiler empire hide spoiler ____ commenced to break up and economic decline set in, the people did not work harder to atone for the loss of trade on the contrary, in view spoiler Baghdad hide spoiler ______ they introduced a five day week A welfare state was inaugurated similar to our own, with free medical treatment, free hospitals, free university education and government grants to students It would appear as if at the beginning of its period of power, the ascendant view spoiler an imperial hide spoiler race scatters all over the world, full of initiative and the love of adventure In its later life, however, a reaction sets in and the pendulum swings to the opposite extreme At this stage, the people become purely inward looking All interest in the view spoiler empire hide spoiler is lost and the nation s attention is focused only on its own domestic affairs As there are still reserves of wealth which have survived from the great days, lavish expenditure is incurred on social services, on education and on humanitarian projects But with the decline in the national status, the accumulated wealth of the past is soon dissipated At first, an attempt is made to maintain social expenditure by increasing taxes and devaluing the currency But these subterfuges only increase the disease, the welfare state has to be abandoned and an increasingly low standard of living must be accepted Far from being a wonderful modern concept, the welfare state may well be a regular and recurrent feature of great nations in decline.This describes view spoiler Baghdad at the end of the great Arabic empire of Umaiyads and Abbasids in the mid 800 s hide spoiler Coming back to Glubb s themes, he posits that we need to understand this history to understand ourselves The closing off of Europe in the Dark Ages led to land as a measure of wealth since money and gold, silver, etc was so scarce Without cash, traders and bankers have little sway and the landed gentry hold the highest levels in society It got me thinking, does our reverence for property rights come from there Excellent book, now I have to go back and read books to givedetail on each period Incredibly informative, can t believe there s so much I didn t know about this region of the world. This is a really good introduction to Arab history, written by John Bagot Glubb, the commander of Transjordan s Arab Legion between 1939 and 1956 The book starts with history of pre islamic Arabia and ends in the 20th century Glubb also gives the Western reader an excellent understanding of the Arab mind and sense of what an Arab is In the West we love to think of peoples as homogeneous wholes living in a certain territory the French , the Germans , or the Danes This might work well for This is a really good introduction to Arab history, written by John Bagot Glubb, the commander of Transjordan s Arab Legion between 1939 and 1956 The book starts with history of pre islamic Arabia and ends in the 20th century Glubb also gives the Western reader an excellent understanding of the Arab mind and sense of what an Arab is In the West we love to think of peoples as homogeneous wholes living in a certain territory the French , the Germans , or the Danes This might work well for the nation states of Western Europe, which have for historical reasons developed along this path, but this logic breaks down when looking outside of Europe which is why Glubb uses the term Arab peoples instead of the Arabs The difference between urban Arabs and Bedouin Arabs and the original Arabian and other culturally Arab but ethnically different Arabs, living outside of the Arabian peninsula in the Levant and Northern Africa, are made very clear for a Western audience, which thinks in peoples and nation states.The different stages of Arab history are explained very well, I thought Glubb s comparison of transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire to the transition of the Umayyad Caliphate to the Abbasid Caliphate was very poignant for example As an advocate of the theory of cyclical history see Glubb s The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival 1978 Glubb makes countless other parallels between Arab history and Greco Roman or Western history, two histories about which a Western audience will be muchintimately knowledgeable than about Arab history The book also contains dozens of helpful maps and family trees, that provide a helpful guideline to keep up with the large amount of information contained in the book If you want to understand the Arab mindset and see the parallels between the history of the Arabs and the history of Greco Roman civilisation and our own civilisation this book is a must read This is not an easy read The names are confusing and they throw a lot at you It is not well footnoted, but throwing that aside it is a short history of Arabs and the Islam religion in only a few pages I learned a great deal in those few pages Finally, I recommend this to shed new light on an old problem, Palestine.
- A Short History of the Arab Peoples
- John Bagot Glubb غلوب باشا
- 12 January 2017 John Bagot Glubb غلوب باشا