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Reviews of The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the 3rd/9th Century

“… an extremely important book.”
— David Brion Davis, Yale University; author of¬†Slavery and Human Progress

“The Zanj revolt, centering around an uprising of East African slaves in the Tigris-Euphrates delta, lasted from 869 to 883 in and around Basra, and was one of the events that contributed to the late-ninth-century crisis of the Abbasid caliphate. Its leader, Ali b. Muhammad, known as Sahib-I zanj (‘Master of the Zanj’), claimed to be an Arab Alid from Rayy, but it is surmised that he was probably a Persian mawla (i.e., client) with a spurious genealogy reminiscent of that most celebrated clandestine agent, Abu Muslim. But why did the revolt drag on for so long? The government in Baghdad was caught unaware, at a time when the Tulunids in Egypt and the Saffarids in the east were virtually independent, the Shiite Carmathians were threatening Iraq itself, and al-Mutamid, the caliph when the revolt broke out, was a poltroon. Fortunately for Baghdad, his brother al-Muwaffaq and the latter’s son, al-Mutadid, worked tirelessly and successfully to crush the uprising. Ali Muhammad was killed in the final battle; his head preceded al-Muwaffaq’s triumphal entry into Baghdad. Basra, however, never recovered its former prosperity. First published in Paris in 1976, this is a monograph in the best tradition of French Islamic scholarship. [Recommended for] graduate, faculty.”
— G. R. G. Hambly, University of Texas at Dallas, Choice¬†magazine