Matthew S. Gordon, "Ahmad ibn Tulun: Governor of Abbasid Egypt, 868–884" (Oneworld Academic, 2021)


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Ahmad Ibn Tulun: Governor of Abbasid Egypt, 868-884 (Oneworld Academic, 2021), by Matthew S. Gordon (Miami University (Ohio)) is an innovative look at the Abbasid governor of Egypt from 868-884, and the short-lived dynasty that succeeded him for just two decades.

Ibn Tulun is perhaps best known for the mosque that still bears his name in Cairo--arguably the city's oldest Islamic monument that survives in its original form--which was the centerpiece of the capital city that he built. While ibn Tulun is often depicted in Egyptian historiography as an autonomous leader, aspiring toward independence away from the greater Abbasid state, Gordon makes a convincing argument that ibn Tulun--the son of a Turkic slave-soldier gifted to the Abbasid caliph--was instead a product of the political turmoil in Iraq, but that he was very much an Abbasid in spirit and politics. This intriguing and convincing reframing of ibn Tulun's life and career offers a new interpretation of this understudied period in Egyptian history, as well as a glimpse into Abbasid-era household politics.

Christopher S Rose is a social historian of medicine focusing on Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean in the 19th and 20th century. He currently teaches History at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.

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