The Arabs: A Short History

The history of Arabia is inextricably tied to the history of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad came from Arabia, and the most important religious centers for Muslims are located in the Arab cities of Mecca and Medina. However, Arabs already had a history reaching back over one and a half millennia when Muhammad entered the stage. Since the ninth century B.C.E. they had been an integral force in determining the fate of the Middle East, establishing themselves as a major power in the seventh century C.E. and with the rise of the caliphate expanding the borders of the Arab world far beyond the Middle East into North Africa and Spain, and even into France. Since that time, Arab history has been intimately connected with European history. Medieval European arts and sciences would have been unthinkable without the brilliant culture of the Arab empire. Only in the modern era has this relationship been marked by a growing European hegemony, which continues to encumber relations between the West and the Arab world to the present day. In this volume, Heinz Halm offers a compact and comprehensible overview of the history and culture of the Arabs from the first references in the inscriptions of Assyrian kings to the most recent developments of contemporary Arab nations.

The Arabs: A Short History is also available in an expanded edition from Markus Wiener, The Arabs: A Short History with Documentsas well as the critically-acclaimed new compilation The History of the Middle East, which features writings on the Arabs, the Ottoman Empire, and Iran.


Heinz Halm, author (University of Tübingen) is one of the world’s leading scholars on the Middle East and especially on Shiism. His books, which have been translated into numerous languages, include: The Shiites: A Short History (also available from Markus Wiener) and The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids. Professor Halm is the editor of Die Welt des Orients, and his shorter studies have appeared in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Encyclopaedia Iranica, and numerous learned journals.

Allison Brown, translator has translated German scholarly books and essays since 1988. Her main fields of interest include history, art, and the social and political sciences, especially women’s and cultural studies. She has an MA in translation science and is certified by the state of Berlin to translate official documents into English.

Tom Lampert, translator studied political science at Stanford University and completed his doctorate on Max Weber at Cornell University. Since 1998, Lampert has been a freelance translator and author of scholarly books and articles, including One Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004), comprising eight biographies based on archival material from Nazi Germany. He lives in Bad Kreuznach.