My old paperback copy of Bernard Lewis’s The Arabs in History (1950) has long since fallen to tatters, its individual signatures now detached, its margins festooned with comments, its pages dog-eared and smudged. It was the first work on Arab history that I read as a student, and if I cling to my battered copy to this day, it is not solely for sentimental reasons or because it remains unmatched as a concise account of a distant culture. The book enshrines an authorial passion that communicates itself to the reader. And my own clumsy annotations reflect that passion.
A Prescience of the Past
Bernard Lewis’s vast erudition, combined with his rare ability to let the past speak through him, enables him to grasp the present in all its depth.