Arabs by Mark Allen is a concise (just 142 pages!), yet comprehensive & respectful portrait of the Arab people. Ostensibly, it is a very difficult task to paint a portrait of a group of people, let alone of an entire nation without falling prey to the temptation satisfying stereotypes. In this case, the deep personal involvement of the author during decades prevented that.

The book is structured in ten short chapters: In Search of Arabs - Blood - Religion - Community - Women - The Problem of Power - Politics - Modernity - Language and Signals - Outlook. Most interesting & enlightening are the chapters on Blood, Power, Politics and Language. The latter has been outright intriguing for me - or do you know the optative aorist? Thought so ... well, I am afraid that's about all I can say about the book, because to further summarise it is a futile attempt. The book appears to be quite irreducible. However, I wonder what people more knowledgeable than me about the subject matter think of it.

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