The Arab world's encounter with capitalism in the last 100 years has raised basic issues as to the nature of Arab identity. Why did Arab civilisation, which so surpassed feudal Europe, never develop a capitalism of its own? Why did communism fail to find popular roots during the renaissance of Arab nationalism? What role will the Arab nation play in a world dominated by the two superpowers? Taking full account of the differences between the various Arab countries, Samir Amin analyses their transition from a non-feudal tributary mode to state capitalism and the hegemony of a state bourgeoisie. Nasserism, the Baath, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Sadat's new policies are all explored. This brief history of the Arab people's struggle is both a political pointer to the future and a controversial theoretical innovation.