Out of Arabia: Phoenicians, Arabs, and the Discovery of Europe by Warwick Ball
The first volume in a series that examines the spread of cultures from the East into Europe "...noted archaeologist Warwick Ball asserts that the 'West' is 'ill-defined' and that the Arab 'discovery of Europe' long predates Islam. He explains that terms such as 'Arab,' 'West,' 'Asia,' and 'Europe' have never been geographically stable despite Eurocentric narratives that pretend as though they are. Indeed, the main historical narratives of the United States are so anglophilic that the British/American twentieth-century partnership is often assumed to have developed naturally, with only momentary interruptions during the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. By challenging similar myths from the ancient world, Ball persuasively demonstrates the significance, might, and breadth of Arab empires that spanned today's Middle East and North Africa. Focusing on 'the layers of civilisation,' Ball demonstrates that 'Arabs' were considered a 'distinctive people' to whom 'west' meant west of the Euphrates, a location certainly not seen as Western today."
"An original and thought-provoking approach to Arab history... most writers today whose work examines the relationship between Arabs and 'the West', Ball is determined to avoid an approach purely focused on confrontation... Whilst he obviously cannot avoid discussing conflict between Europeans and Arabs - most notably during the Crusades - Ball is keen to stress the more subtle and positive ways in which Europe has been affected by its contact with the Arabs. ... It would be a mistake, however, to view Arab history entirely within an Islamic context. ... Ball argues strongly that Islam should be viewed as a 'culmination' rather than a beginning. Fascinating early chapters examine the history of the Arabs' forbears, the Phoenicians... some of the outcomes are surprising, and remain little known today. How many people know, for example, that for much of the 10th century a large part of Switzerland was occupied by the Muslim descendents of Arab corsairs? ... Ball writes in a lively, engaging style that should carry most readers to the end of the book. More generally, this is a timely and interesting work that deserves to reach a wide readership. Out of Arabia is the first of a series of books examining the impact of 'Eastern' cultures on Europe, and I eagerly await the appearance of further volumes." 215 x 135 mm 272 pages Paperback English East & West Publishing 2009 ISBN 978 1 907318 00 9