Generalisations are always dangerous, Glubb says, because human beings are all different:
The variety in human life is endless. If this be the case with individuals, it is much more so with nations and cultures. No two societies, no two peoples, no two cultures are exactly the same. In these circumstances, it will be easy for critics to find many objections to what has been said, and to point out exceptions to the generalisations.
There is some value in comparing the lives of nations to those of individuals. No two persons in the world are identical. Moreover their lives are often affected by accidents or by illness, making the divergences even more obvious. Yet, in fact, we can generalise about human life from many different aspects. The characteristics of childhood, adolescence, youth, middle and old age are well known. Some adolescents, it is true, are prematurely wise and serious. Some persons in middle age still seem to he young. But such exceptions do not invalidate the general character of human life from the cradle to the grave.
I venture to submit that the lives of nations follow a similar pattern. Superficially, all seem to be completely different. Some years ago, a suggestion was submitted to a certain television corporation that a series of talks on Arab history would form an interesting sequence. The proposal was immediately vetoed by the director of programmes with the remark, “What earthly interest could the history of medieval Arabs have for the general public today?”
Yet, in fact, the history of the Arab imperial age — from conquest through commercialism, to affluence, intellectualism, science and decadence — is an exact precursor of British imperial history and lasted almost exactly the same time.
If British historians, a century ago, had devoted serious study to the Arab Empire, they could have foreseen almost everything that has happened in Britain down to 1976.