Yemen’s history is unique and deserves to be better understood. Divided in the nineteenth century between Ottoman and British spheres of influence and by local connections which reached as far afield as Java, Yemen had a long tradition of imagined unity which reached political fruition in the form of a single state only in 1990. North Yemen, under the Zaydi Imamate, was the one fully independent Arab government after World War I. South Yemen was a British protectorate. Both Yemens were at the centre of Arab politics in the 1960s, and the South then became the Arab world’s only Marxist state; the North was the site of intense Saudi interest. Yemen’s belated union in May 1990, as the Yemen Republic, was shaken by the Gulf crisis and by civil war in 1994. Drawing on his skills as an anthropologist, Paul Dresch handles the story deftly, using poetry, quotation from local sources, and personal experience to evoke what the events of the twentieth century meant to Yemenis, who form Arabia’s largest national population. The narrative is fast-moving. The book provides an easy introduction to a little known slice of Arabia’s modern history, and experts will find much here that is new.
• fast-moving narrative, accessible to student and general reader
• interdisciplinary appeal to historians, anthropologists and political scientists
• illustrations, maps and a detailed chronology elucidate the text
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