The Maqaddimah: An Introduction to History
By Ibn Khaldun. N. J. Dawood, ed.; Franz Rosenthal, trans.
2015, Princeton Classics, 978-0-69116-628-5, $24.95, pb.
Reviewed by Caroline Stone on January 23, 2016
The Muqaddimah is the Introduction to Ibn Khaldun's great World History, completed around 1400. It is one of the most important Arabic works on the philosophy of history, and it sets forth many of Ibn Khaldun's theories in the disciplines that would now be called politics, economics and sociology. Even after 600 years, it is very relevant to understanding the dynamics of the Middle East. First translated into Turkish and later into French, the first full-length English translation, by Franz Rosenthal, appeared in three volumes in 1958. This version, excellently abridged by N. J. Dawood, a translator of the Qur'an, has been intermittently available, but it is extremely useful to have a single-volume paperback that makes many of Ibn Khaldun's most important ideas accessible to the non-specialist. This volume includes Rosenthal's original Introduction and a more recent one by Bruce B. Lawrence to help orient the reader. The Muqaddimah is vital reading for anyone interested in the history of ideas, especially political theory, with particular reference to the Islamic world.