I bought Hourani’s History of the Arab Peoples a few months ago, but I’ve not been getting on very well with it.
Since I began to read Hourani I’ve distracted myself with, and posted about, Men, Women and Dogs, My Life and Hard Times, Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring, Mole Under the Fence and The Letters of Noel Coward. I have also read the following:
And thanks to Dave for sending me back to re-read Archy’s vers libre:
And today I galloped through:
The problem is that Hourani writes some of the most dead pan non-committal history I have ever read (or not read) in my life. There’s no insideness to the history or to the authorial voice, and although he relates facts I technically did not know, there are very few of those revelatory insights which make you blink and say, ‘I didn’t know that’. And with a subject so rich and diverse, there ought to be.
I’ve battled on as far as the Ottoman Empire, assisted by my all-purpose interest in mediaeval history, but this adventitious support runs out at about 1600, and now Hourani’s on his own I just can’t raise the interest. Sorry, but it is time to move on.