The Arabs by David Lamb

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In this case, the accompanying photo helps set the feeling for this book. The question I propose my enormous reader-base: would you feel comfortable breaking out this book on the bus or subway? David Lamb wrote "The Arabs" in 1987. The title reflects this on several levels. I never really like people to know what I am reading when I am on the train, per se. When ARABS is written in huge, red, capital letters, even less so. Why does it feel strange to me?

Regardless, I enjoyed this light read on the Arabs, a definition Lamb gives to include the area from Morocco moving east until Oman. The edition I read included a post 9/11 update, which was essentially a chance for Lamb to cash in on the tragedy by adding a new introduction and a handful of sentences about the connections to the event. Right move in my eyes, mainly because no one in the States cared about this part of the world until they were forced to.

The account is based on his writings and recollections during his time as the L.A. Times Bureau chief in Cairo. Yes, another one! It reads like the travel book that it is. What I found to be most interesting is how the writing has not been skewed by the 9/11, which offers a pre-event perspective.

As I enjoy following threads in both thought and reading, it is important to make the connection between my study of modern German history and the Middle East. Obviously, much of the shaping of this part of the world are a direct consequence of World War II, which led to the creation of the State of Israel. What Lamb argues is that even without Israel the Arab countries, due to how they are governed, would still be rife with problems though perhaps to a lesser degree. The Palestine - Israel conflict, often seen to be the number one factor causing tension in the Middle East and beyond, continues to trudge on because it is not in the interest of other Muslim that it is resolved.

I do not want to delve too deep into this argument because it is complex and I know next to nothing about it. The next post will be a review on a book written by an Argentine-Palestinian music conductor residing in Berlin. The title of the book is Everything is Connected. Let's see if this is really the case. Until then...


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