America's Arab Nationalists : From the Ottoman Revolution to the Rise of Hitler book cover
1st Edition

America's Arab Nationalists
From the Ottoman Revolution to the Rise of Hitler

ISBN 9781032215310
Published November 4, 2022 by Routledge
240 Pages

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

America’s Arab Nationalists focuses in on the relationship between Arab nationalists and Americans in the struggle for independence in an era when idealistic Americans could see the Arab nationalist struggle as an expression of their own values. In the first three decades of the twentieth century (from the 1908 Ottoman revolution to the rise of Hitler), important and influential Americans, including members of the small Arab-American community, intellectually, politically and financially participated in the construction of Arab nationalism. This book tells the story of a diverse group of people whose contributions are largely unknown to the American public.

The role Americans played in the development of Arab nationalism has been largely unexplored by historians, making this an important and original contribution to scholarship. This volume is of great interest to students and academics in the field, though the narrative style is accessible to anoyone interested in Arab nationalism, the conflict between Zionists and Palestinians, and the United States’ relationship with the Arab world.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: 1908

Chapter Two: Charles Crane, Abraham Rihbany and Ameen Rihani: On the Path to Arab Nationalism

Chapter Three: "America Save the Near East": World War I, The Arab Revolt and the Growth of Arab Nationalism

Chapter Four: American Arab Nationalists In Paris

Chapter Five: The Disillusionment of Abraham Rihbany: The King-Crane Commission

Chapter Six: Three Trips: 1920-1925

Chapter Seven: Charles Crane’s Revolution and Ameen Rihani’s Wahhabism

Chapter Eight: America’s Arab Nationalists, Zionism and Hitler


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Aaron Berman is Professor Emeritus of History at Hampshire College. He received his doctorate in American History from Columbia University. His first book, Nazism, the Jews and American Zionism explained how American Jewry’s understanding of their own history shaped the Zionist response to the extermination of European Jewry. His research interests center on the history of nationalism (particularly Arab and Jewish nationalisms) and internationalism. For eleven years he served as Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hampshire College.


"Aaron Berman has written an indispensable history that narrates not just the US encounter with Arab nationalism, but of the role of Arab-Americans in the rise of Arab nationalism itself, including the early confrontations with the Zionist movement in the US. The history is revealed through the gripping stories of its key interlocutors such as Abraham Rihbany, Amin Rihani, Elizabeth Titzel, Howard Bliss, and many others. Berman’s beautifully written book takes the reader on a fascinating journey from places such as Amherst College in the US to the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut and back, stopping through decisive moments such as the trials of Faisal in the Paris Conference. Berman’s book is a highly entertaining page turner, accessible to a public audience but also a must-read for scholars and students of both Middle East and American studies."

Omar Dahi, Professor of Economics at Hampshire College and co-author of South-South Trade and Finance in the 21st Century: Rise of the South or a Second Great Divergence

"Berman’s careful analysis of American understandings of Arab nationalism is depicted through the words and actions of missionaries, philanthropists and Arab-American activists. In particular it illuminates the racism that distorted the world views of Americans and that Arab and Arab-American activists turned to their advantage. By consciously playing to Orientalist notions of the exotic, key actors in the United States and the Arabic-speaking world hoped to attract American interest to and sympathy with Arab nationalism."

Mary Wilson, Professor Emerita of History, University of Masschusetts, Amherst. Author of King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan

"America’s Arab Nationalists is a beautifully written study of Americans who, in the first three decades of the twentieth century, became Arab nationalists or key allies of Arab nationalism, and played a significant role in shaping its early ideology and policies. This book’s American protagonists came from different backgrounds and advocated different kinds of Arab nationalism, yet they all saw early Arab nationalism as expressing their own American values, envisioning the United States as the midwife of a new Arab nation. Tracing their careers, Berman’s important book spins an engrossing saga which begins in the wake of the Young Turk Revolution, gathers steam during the Great War and the Arab Revolt, swells in the Wilsonian moment, only to be frustrated by the installment of the Mandate system. This is an original study of a bygone era, in which American views on Arab nationalism were not dominated by the questions of Zionism and Palestine. By engaging America’s Arab Nationalists in their own terms and historical context, Berman sheds a critical light on our present day. Highly recommended to all students of Arab Nationalism, the modern Middle East, and America’s role in these crucial issues."

Adi Gordon, Associate Professor of History, Amherst College and the author of Towards Nationalism's End: An Intellectual Biography of Hans Kohn