Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires

Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires
A riveting, comprehensive history of the Arab peoples and tribes that explores the role of language as a cultural touchstone

This kaleidoscopic book covers almost 3,000 years of Arab history and shines a light on the footloose Arab peoples and tribes who conquered lands and disseminated their language and culture over vast distances. Tracing this process to the origins of the Arabic language, rather than the advent of Islam, Tim Mackintosh-Smith begins his narrative more than a thousand years before Muhammad and focuses on how Arabic, both spoken and written, has functioned as a vital source of shared cultural identity over the millennia.

Mackintosh-Smith reveals how linguistic developments—from pre-Islamic poetry to the growth of script, Muhammad’s use of writing, and the later problems of printing Arabic—have helped and hindered the progress of Arab history, and investigates how, even in today’s politically fractured post–Arab Spring environment, Arabic itself is still a source of unity and disunity.

Please find the Wikipedia page for the book here:,Arabs%3A%20A%203%2C000%2DYear%20History%20of%20Peoples%2C%20Tribes%20and,of%20the%20Yemeni%20Civil%20War.

“Although Mackintosh-Smith’s book is perfectly scholarly, it is not a dutiful plod through a succession of slaughtered sultans and viziers or a tallying of gains and losses in forgotten battles in unpronounceable places. On the contrary, Arabs keeps throwing out brilliant insights, like sparks from a Catherine wheel.”—Robert Irwin, Literary Review

“A fascinating and richly detailed chronicle of Arab language and culture offers some thought-provoking historical parallels”—Ian Black, The Observer

“Commanding erudition and a swashbuckling style define this history of the Arabs”—Justin Marozzi, The Sunday Times

"Sweeping book [. . .] It addresses vital questions of Arab identity and nationhood. There can hardly be a better guide than Mackintosh-Smith, who has near- mythical status among western observers of the Middle East"—Richard Spencer, The Times Ireland

"[Mackintosh-Smith] is ideally positioned to make the tangled past vividly present. . . . [He] handles his complex account with great aplomb."—Eric Ormsby, Wall Street Journal

“A long time in the making, Tim Mackintosh-Smith’s erudite study, Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires was worth the wait”—Justin Marozzi, Evening Standard (Best summer holiday reads)

“[An] extraordinary new survey” —Shiraz Maher, New Statesman

“Extraordinarily comprehensive history of the Arabs and their culture, which covers 3,000 years and explains why unity in the Arab world “remains a mirage”. Sumptuous package, with gold foil on the jacket.” —The Bookseller (Editor’s Choice)

“One of the many significant achievements of Mackintosh-Smith's brilliant new book is to put this current moment into a long and rich context, explaining how it fits into the 3,000- year history of peoples, tribes, empires and a language [. . .] An important book” —Anthony Sattin, Spectator

“A long-term resident of Yemen, the author is duly famous for his brilliant travel writing. He is also among the most gifted Arabic translators alive today. These qualities make him an ideal guide to the vicissitudes of the Arabs throughout history, from the first moment they appear in the historical record [. . .] to the painful present of civil wars, refugees and would be caliphates”— Christian Sahner, Times Literary Supplement

“The bulk of this astounding book portrays grand personalities, national journeys and thrilling adventures, all seen through the prism of Arabic language” —Steve Donoghue, The National

“[A] discursive and fascinating analysis of ‘Arabness’”—Alan Mackie, Asian Affairs


Tim Mackintosh-Smith


Yale University Press