Islam

On The Shores of Tripoli

April 10, 2015

In my seventh grade music class, we regularly sang the anthems of the various branches of the United States’ armed services.*  Three days a week, the caissons rolled, bones sank to Davy Jones, planes sailed into the wild blue yonder, and the Marines fought from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.  It […]

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The Fall of the Ottomans

March 24, 2015

Last year I spent a lot of time and virtual ink on books about World War I. When the year came to an end, I had to take a breather. But this one was too good to let pass: Western histories of the First World War often focus on the trench warfare on the Western […]

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From the Archives: Building Baghdad

March 10, 2015

I currently have my head down trying to finish a big project that I’m excited about. Instead of driving myself crazy trying to write blog posts at the same time or, worse, “going dark” I’ll be running some of my favorite posts from the past for the next little while. Enjoy. And I’ll see you […]

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From The Archives: Al-Khwarizmi Does The Math

March 3, 2015

I currently have my head down trying to finish a big project that I’m excited about. Instead of driving myself crazy trying to write blog posts at the same time or, worse, “going dark” I’ll be running some of my favorite posts from the past for the next little while. Enjoy. And I’ll see you […]

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Abandoning the Algerian Model

February 8, 2015

Tunisia and Morocco came under French control much later than Algeria, in 1883 and 1912 respectively, as part of the great “scramble for Africa” at the end of the nineteenth century.* From the French perspective, the imperial experience in Tunisia and Morocco was very different than that in Algeria.** In both states, French investors became […]

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Abd al-Qadir Fights Back

January 20, 2015

  If the French hadn’t invaded Algeria in 1830, Algerian emir Abd al-Qadir would probably have been content to follow his grandfather and father as the spiritual leader of the Qadiriyah Sufi order. In the fall of 1832, when the French began to expand their control into the Algerian interior, the Arab tribes of Oran […]

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The Incident of the Flyswatter

January 13, 2015

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend and regular reader of History in the Margins suggesting I write a post about the long, complex, and often difficult relationship between France and its Muslim citizens, hoping it would give her/you a context for the Charlie Hebdo killings and their aftermath. I will admit that I […]

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Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms

November 7, 2014

In recent weeks, Ezidis, Druze, Mandaeans and other Middle Eastern religious minorities have appeared in the world’s headlines. For the most part, these groups, unfamiliar to most Westerners, have been no more than names attached to tragedies. Gerard Russell’s Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East appears just in […]

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Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors

September 27, 2014

If you’ve spent much time here in the Margins, you know that I’m fascinated by historical boundaries: the times and places where two cultures meet (peacefully or, more often, not) and change each other. One of my favorite examples of a historical boundary is Islamic Spain, where Dar al Islam and Christendom met in exciting […]

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Re-Run: If You Only Read One Book On Islamic History…

February 25, 2014

Last year I discovered the best general book on Islamic history I’ve ever read:  Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tanim Ansary.  I underlined as I read.  I annotated.  I put little Post-It tabs at critical points, the durable ones so I could go back to key arguments in the […]

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