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The Arab Americans

A History

Published by Olive Branch Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

Gregory Orfalea’s new and definitive work spans a century and a half of the life of Arab immigrants and their descendants in the United States. In The Arab Americans: A History, Orfalea has marshaled over 150 interviews and 25 years of research to tell the story that begins in 1856, when camel driver Hajdi Ali (or Hi Jolly) was hired by Jefferson Davis to cut a “camel trail” across the Southwest, and continues through the 2005 arrest of a former Virginia high school valedictorian accused of plotting with al-Qaeda. Once seen as the “benevolent stranger,” as the author points out, today Arab Americans are “the malevolent stranger.” His book, however, is an assault on such ignorance, both celebration and warning. The Arab Americans is the culmination of a life’s work, a landmark in the history of what it means to be an American. It is also the history of a community uniquely repressed in American scholarship, history, literature, and politics. The Arab Americans fills a sizable void, and it could not be more timely. With American troops sprawled across the Arab and Muslim world, Orfalea’s work is like light in a dark tunnel—facts, not stereotypes; people, not shadows; the vibrant world of a lost American experience come to life. Orfalea brings to this work an historian’s love of meticulous and telling detail, a poet’s ear, and a novelist’s sense of story. The cumulative effect is symphonic and its arrival none too soon.

About The Author

Gregory Orfalea is the author of Messengers of the Lost Battalion: The Heroic 551st and the Turning of the Tide at the Battle of the Bulge. He is also director of the Center for Writing at Pitzer College, where he teaches creative nonfiction and the short story.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Olive Branch Press (January 30, 2006)
  • Length: 448 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781566566445

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Raves and Reviews

"A detailed and highly readable account...providing an intimate description of today's Arab Americans and their historical experiences. This eminently clear and well-written book is essential for anyone interested in going beyond the media stereotypes of Arab Americans. Highly recommended..."

"Beautifully written, the book is a much-needed entry in an all but empty field...It traces the centrury-long arc of Arab American immigration, illuminating assimilation and ethnic politics with a loving yet candid eye as the narrative shifts between observations historical, personal and statistical."

"A beautifully written and lively narrative about the growth of the Arab American community in over a century of immigration and assimilation... Contributes phenominally to American immigration studies... I strongly recommend it."

– Issa J. Boullata, Ph.D., Digest of Middle East Studies

"Orfalea's work is a history of the Arab-American community combined with elements of autobiography. His is not a dispassionate history. Orfalea expresses his sense of deep agony over the events of 2001 and all that it has meant for the Arab Americans in the United States. His history, motivated by the terror attacks and their aftermath, is based on 25 years of research and 140 interviews with Arab Americans. It is in part an attempt to record the 'disgust with terror' and a means to correct perceived injustice expressed by most Arab Americans as they attempt 'navigate as Americans' in an intensely uneasy environment."

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