A History of Modern Yemen. . – Books in Brief

A History of Modern Yemen. . – Books in Brief – book review

Dresch, Paul. A History of Modern Yemen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Hardcover $59.00.

This comprehensive history of twentieth-century Yemen traces Yemeni development since Imam Yahya and his dealings with both the Turks and the British. Yahya’s son, Badr, consolidated power in the North while the British controlled Aden and the rest of the South. The book deals with social development in the context of the political economy of both North and South Yemen and contrasts the old politics with the new (political parties, labor unions, and nationalism). The author shows the centrality of Egypt’s military intervention in Yemen to regional politics and interprets Northern politics since Egypt’s involvement primarily as a split between soldiers (pro-Egypt) and other political actors. In his view, therefore, the political fault line was not between extreme and moderate republicans, left or right or even social classes.

The author demonstrates how Aden was more connected to international trade than it was to the North and argues that the revolution in the South had to do with tribalism and “local concerns” (p. 98) and not with anti-colonialism or class struggles. The author’s interpretation of politics in the North and South and later (1994) in a unified Yemen demonstrates the positivist nature of his methodology and meta-theoretical commitments. The book essentially lacks analysis of surface phenomena. To say, for instance, that the revolution in the South had nothing to do with anti-colonialism, is to be absolutely myopic as regards the way in which the revolutionaries in the South mobilized social forces in a traditional society.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Association of Arab-American University Graduates and Institute of Arab Studies

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group