'Alamut' in Baghdad and 'The 48 Laws of Power' in Najaf

Booksellers report jump in demand for history and philosophy-themed books

BAGHDAD — Bookstores and publishers on Baghdad’s famous Al-Mutanabbi Street, a street filled with shops and outdoor stalls selling different publications, report a surge in interest for books on diverse historical and philosophical themes, particularly following the adaptation of a novel about Hasan Sabah and his secretive assassins group into a popular drama series.

The TV series, “The Assassins,” is directed by Ahmed Jamal and Peter Mimi and is derived from Vladimir Bartol’s novel “Alamut” about the emergence of Hasan Sabah, the leader of the Assassins group. The show has revitalized interest in this slice of history from Fatimid Egypt to the Isma’ili Shia in Isfahan, Iran.

Wissam Fakhir of Al-Jamal Bookstore shared with 964media, “Bartol’s blend of real history with fiction, philosophy, religion, and politics brings the past and future together, making it a compelling read that unveils more intrigue with each page.”

This week, inquiries on Al-Mutanabbi Street have not been limited to Bartol’s work. Readers are also exploring “A Brief History of the Human Race” by British historian Michael Cook, which examines the interplay between human civilizations and environmental factors like geography and climate. Cook’s work poses critical questions about the paths and progressions of human history influenced by environmental conditions.

Additionally, “A History of Fatigue” by French anthropologist Georges Vigarello outlines the concept of fatigue through ten centuries, using France as a focal point. This comprehensive study draws from a vast array of cultural, literary, military, and religious narratives, as well as scientific documents.

Karim Hanash, owner of Al-Hanash Bookstore, noted, “Eid Friday saw exceptional traffic, with significant interest in Vigarello’s exploration of fatigue, reflecting a deepening public curiosity about historical and cultural dynamics.”

In Najaf, Al-Howeish Market in the Old City and Al-Jawahiri Street in the Al-Rawna neighborhood saw a notable increase in demand for books centered on historical narratives and strategies for acquiring power, as reported by local booksellers.

Nawar Muhyiddin, the manager of Iqra Bookstore on Rawan Street, highlighted Jeremy Black’s “A History of the World” as the week’s top seller.

Published by Yale University and translated into Arabic in 2013, the book spans from prehistoric times up to the 21st century, exploring global civilizations’ triumphs and tribulations, from the advent of agriculture and writing to the Cold War and space race. The work is part of a comprehensive ten-volume series that delves into language, religion, poetry, and economics.

At Al-Hikma Bookstore, manager Zaman Hadi noted the popularity of “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. The book breaks down forty-eight rules that Greene argues will guide one to power. The text is especially favored for its practical advice on “navigating interpersonal relationships without conflict and adapting to various situations efficiently,” according to Hadi.