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Ibn Khaldun: the man who invented modern history

From Reagan to Zuckerberg, the enduring relevance of a 14th-century Arab historian

By Sameer Rahim  

Ronald Reagan once cited him. Mark Zuckerberg picked his great work as one of his book club choices. And the British historian Arnold Toynbee described it “as undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.” These are pretty unusual encomia for a 14th-century North African historian—but then Ibn Khaldun was an unusually gifted man. His Muqaddimah is a book-length introduction—or prolegomena—to a much longer history of the world. Such histories were common…

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