The Kurds
An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society
by Sebastian Maisel, Editor
June 2018, 376pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4256-6
$94, 79€, A135
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4257-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Despite their status as a large, cohesive indigenous ethnic group, the Kurds have no state of their own in the Middle East and live as secondary citizens in majority Arab, Turkish, or Persian nations.

This indispensable resource for Western readers about the Kurds—an ancient indigenous group that exemplifies diversity in the Middle East—examines their history, politics, economics, and social structure.

The Kurds: An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society provides an insightful examination the Kurds—from their historical beginning to today—through thematic and country-specific essays as well as important primary documents that allow for a greater understanding of the diversity and pluralism of the region. This single-volume work looks at the Kurds from a variety of angles and disciplines, including history, anthropology, economics, religion, geography, and musicology, to cover the ethnic populations of the original Kurdish homeland states as well as of the diaspora.

The book evaluates sources in Kurdish (both Kurmanci and Sorani) in addition to information of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish origin to present broad, up-to-date coverage that will serve nonspecialist readers, high school and college students, and professionals, journalists, politicians, and other decision makers who require accurate perspectives on Kurdish history and culture. Additionally, an entire section of the book provides excerpts of primary sources selected for their importance to Kurdish history and identity. These 20 primary source excerpts are accompanied by introductions and analysis that enable readers to fully appreciate their political, religious, and cultural importance.


  • Supplies a thorough examination of the Kurds, a people that are of great interest and relevance to the general public because of their successful campaign against the Islamic State
  • Offers a local, regional, and global perspective on important current Middle Eastern issues through the context of the Kurdish people
  • Underscores how the Kurds stand for diversity and pluralism in an otherwise homogeneous Middle East
  • Enables readers to develop a much better understanding of U.S. involvement in the Middle East
  • Includes entries written by a team of international contributors, including many Kurdish scholars
Sebastian Maisel, PhD, is associate professor of Arabic and Middle East studies at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI. He is coauthor of Greenwood's Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab States Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Arab States as well as of the forthcoming book Double Minority: Yezidi Perspectives from Syria.


2019 Outstanding Reference Source — Reference and User Services Association—RUSA, January 27, 2019


"Overall, this is an excellent introductory reference for college-level audiences who have little to no background on the Kurds."—Booklist Online, October 29, 2018

"This book is a wellspring of facts and tidbits of a diverse people who practice different varieties of Islamic beliefs and nonbeliefs, bounded by common history, defined by land and group survival. Helpful to the nonspecialist are discussions of relevant belief claims and behavior patterns, and the effect of sacred tradition on the life of the people. Highly recommended."—ARBA, October 9, 2018

"Well-written and well-presented. . . . Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."—Choice, November 1, 2018

Recomended for Community College, 2018—Choice, 00/00/00
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