Herf explores the intellectual, political, and cultural context in which German and European radical anti-Semitism was found to resonate with similar views rooted in a selective appropriation of the traditions of Islam. Pro-Nazi Arab exiles in wartime Berlin, including Haj el-Husseini and Rashid el-Kilani, collaborated with the Nazis in constructing their Middle East propaganda campaign. By integrating the political and military history of the war in the Middle East with the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the propagandistic diffusion of Nazi ideology, Herf offers the most thorough examination to date of this important chapter in the history of World War II. Importantly, he also shows how the anti-Semitism promoted by the Nazi propaganda effort contributed to the anti-Semitism exhibited by adherents of radical forms of Islam in the Middle East today.
The evolution of regional Arab politics is examined from its infancy at the beginning of the 20th century to the profound challenges posed by the upheavals of the Arab Spring, and through the emergence of multiple Arab states organized under the League of Arab States, the pan-Arab heyday of Gamal Abdel Nasser between 1955 and 1967, and the subsequent consolidation of a multi-polar Arab state system. This history highlights the changing nature of modern Arab identity, the achievements and shortcomings of Arab state formation processes, and the influence of enduring communal, tribal, religious and ethnic identities on the modern Arab order. Altogether, these factors help explain contemporary Arab realities and why the Arab nationalist dream of achieving power and prosperity in line with an idealized image of the past, has proven elusive. This failure, in turn, has fueled both the recent upheavals and limited the prospects for successful outcomes.
This broad and readable synthesis covers the political, economic, social, and cultural history of the Arab region. By reexamining what “being Arab” means today, politically and culturally, it will be a valuable text to students seeking to understand the modern Middle East.
In the 17th century, Britain was establishing trade links in the Middle East, using its position in India to increasingly exclude other European powers. Over the coming centuries this commercial influence developed into political power and finally formal empire, as the British sought to control their regional hegemony through military force. Robert Harrison charts this relationship, exploring how the Middle East served as the launchpad for British offensive action in the World Wars, and how resentment against colonial rule in the region led ultimately to political and Islamic revolutions and Britain's demise as a global, imperial power.