North Africa Books

Below is a list of books dealing with the remote and recent history of the Maghreb. All are in English. Your blogger has read or used all of them at some stage or another and believes they will be of some use in understanding recent events. These will also help readers find interesting anecdotes and facts from recent history in the region.

The list covers (1) Maghrebi history in general; (2) edited editions on the Maghreb in general; (3) Libya; (4) the ancient history of North Africa, mainly in the Roman period. There are not sections on Tunisia, Morocco or Algeria specifically; lists on these countries are soon in coming. This list does not repeat books on previous reading lists, such as the one on Arab uprisings from last month. The section on ancient history has little to do with contemporary issues but the books there are interesting and satisfy this blogger’s interest in Roman history, kindled in Latin class years ago.

The Abun-Nasr books and Clancy-Smith books are particularly worth reading. A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period chapter two’s sections on “Arab-caliphial rule and the Berbers” and “Kharijite Berber rebellion against Arab domination” are particularly interesting as well as chapter four, “Ottoman rule in the Central and eastern Maghrib”; in North Africa, Islam and the Mediterranean World from the Almoravids to the Algerian War the Miller and Messier chapters on the Almoravids are especially interesting (Messier also looks at Ibn Khaldoun) nad the El Mansour chapter on “Maghribis in the Mashriq during the modern period: representations of the Other within the World of Islam” is very much worth reading; Dalenda Largueche’s chapter “The Mahalla” is very relevant, too. Chapter eight in the Zartman volume is by Hugh Roberts — one of the best writers on Algeria. Michael Collins Dunn’s chapter in the same book (nine) and Entelis’s on Algeria (thirteen) are very interesting, too. In Arabs and Berbers chapters fifteen (Quandt on “Berbers in the Algerian Political Elite”), twenty (Stewart, on Mauritania), twenty two (by Coram, “The Berbers and the coup”) are especially noteworthy. These are useful in contextualizing some of the contemporary discourse on Berbers in Algerian/Moroccan politics and the workings of some of the tribal element in Mauritania.

Maghrebi history.

  1. Abun-Nasr, Jamil.
    1. A history of the Maghrib. Cambridge University Press. 1971, 1975.
    2. A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period. Cambridge University Press. 1987.
  2. Anderson, Eugene N. The First Moroccan Crisis, 1904-1906. Archon Books. 1966.
  3. Bernard, Stephane. The Franco-Moroccan Conflict, 1943-1956. Yale University Press. 1968.
  4. Bourdieu, Pierre. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge University Press. 1977, 1992.
  5. Brett, Michael and Fentress, Elizabeth. The Berbers. Blackwell. 1996.
  6. Brown, L. Carl. The Tunisia of Ahmad Bey, 1837-1855. Princeton University Press. 1974.
  7. Clancy-Smith, Julia A. Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an age of migration, c. 1800-1900. University of California Press. 2011.
  8. Hannoum, Abdelmajid. Violent Modernity: France in Algeria. Harvard Middle Eastern Monographs. 2010.
  9. Julien, Charles-Andre. History of North Africa: From the Arab Conquest to 1830. Praeger Publishers. 1970.
  10. Laroui, Abdallah [trans. Manheim, Ralph]. The History of the Maghrib: An Interpretive Essay. Princeton University Press. 1977.
  11. Naylor, Phillip C. North Africa: A History from Antiquity to the Present. University of Texas Press. 2009.
  12. Perkins, Kenneth J. A History of Modern Tunisia. Cambridge University Press. 2004.
  13. Peyron, Michael. Berber Odes: Poetry from the Mountains of Morocco. Eland Books. 2011.
  14. Le Tourneau, Roger. The Almohad Movement in North Africa in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. Princeton University Press. 1969.
  15. Walker, Paul E. Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and its Sources. I.B. Tauris. 2002.

Edited editions.

  1. Clancy-Smith, Julia. North Africa, Islam and the Mediterranean World from the Almoravids to the Algerian War. Frank Cass. 2001.
  2. Gellner, Ernest and Micaud, Charles. Arabs and Berbers: From Tribe to Nation in North Africa. Lexington Books.1972.
  3. Hoffman, Katherine E. and Miller, Susan Gilson. Berbers and Others: Beyond Tribe and Nation in the Maghrib. Indiana University Press. 2010.
  4. Joffe, George. North Africa: nation, state, and region. Routledge. 1993.
  5. Lawless, Richard and Findlay, Allan. North Africa: Contemporary politics and economic development. St. Martin’s Press. 1984.
  6. Ruedy, John. Islamism and Secularism in North Africa. St. Martin’s Press. 1994.
  7. Zartman, I. William and Habeeb, William Mark. Polity and Society in Contemporary North Africa. Westview Press. 1993.


  1. Ahmida, Ali Abdullatif. The Making of Modern Libya: State formation, colonization, and resistance, 1830-1932. State University of New York Press. 1994.
  2. Del Boca, Angelo [trans. Shugaar, Anthony]. Mohamed Fekini and the Fight to Free Libya. Palgrave Macmillan. 2011.
  3. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. The Sanusi of Cyrenaica. The Clarendon Press. 1948.
  4. Khadduri, Majid. Modern Libya: A Study in Political Development. The John’s Hopkins Press. 1963.
  5. Peters, Emrys L. The Bedouin of Cyrenaica: Studies in personal and corporate power. Cambridge University Press.
  6. Pelt, Adrian. Libyan Independence and the United Nations: A case of planned decolonization. Yale University Press. 1970.
  7. St. John, Ronald Bruce. Libya: From Colony to independence. Oneworld. 2008.
  8. Wright, John. Libya, Chad and the Central Sahara. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 1989.
  9. Wright, John. A History of Libya. Columbia University Press. 2010.

[Ancient] Maghrebi history.

  1. Broughton, T. R. S. The Romanization of Africa Proconsularis. Greenwood Press. 1968.
  2. Dossey, Leslie. Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa. University of California Press. 2010.
  3. Hawthorn, J. R. Sallust: Rome and Jugurtha. Duckworth Publishers. 2008.
  4. Merrills, A. H. Vandals, Romans and Berbers: New Perspectives on Late Antique North Africa. Ashgate. 2004.
  5. Raven, Susan. Rome in Africa. Taylor and Francis. 2007.
  6. Warmington, B. H. The North African Provinces from Diocletian to the Vandal Conquest. Greenwood Press. 1954.
  7. Libya Antiqua: Report and papers of the symposium organized by Unesco in Paris, 16 to 18 January 1984. UNESCO. 1986.

8 thoughts on “North Africa Books

  1. This is so useful, especially for those of us only tangentially acquainted with the Arab world. The Libya reading list is especially valuable for me, and should be for anyone else like me who has “opinions” they wish to share on current events there.

    The significant other, though, will be displeased when she discovers I want more books. I’ll blame you

  2. Thanks for this. It’s irritating trying to find decent ones when most in bookstores seem to have a need for titles like ‘Den of Snakes’ or ‘Unholy Soldiers’.

  3. I have a question- is there a reason you did not include Dirk Vandewalle’s A History of Modern Libya? Haven’t read it yet but it’s on a list for one of my courses this fall.

    On a side note, huge fan of Julia Clancy-Smith’s work so I was so happy to see you include it here!

  4. You may add Barnay Rogerson’s “North Africa: A History from the Mediterranean Shore to the Sahara” and Jacob Adabi’s “Tunisia since the Arab Conquest: The Saga of a Westernized Muslim State” to this list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s