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A good history of 20th century Yemen is something for which those of us researching that fascinating country have long been asking, and Paul Dresch's work in many ways fills the void. Within a clear chronological framework and in limited space he authoritatively outlines the political history of Yemen. He starts his account around 1900, just before Imam Yahya (1905–48) acceded to the imamate in the north. Meanwhile, the British extended their rule over the south from their base in Aden (occupied in 1830). The book ends with a discussion of the recent unification (1990) and the troubled decade that followed it. In an impressive tour de force, Dresch has written a history that is clearly informed by the large body of new scholarship in a variety of disciplines, as well as by his background in anthropology. Thus, he uses myriad illuminating details and quotations from original sources to paint a picture that is far more interesting and deeper than is commonly expected of historical textbooks. This is particularly evident in the first three chapters, which deal with background and with the 1950s. This part of the book seems particularly rich. It is therefore regrettable that Dresch accords the first half of the century only slightly more than a quarter of the book (the discussion of the 1950s starts on p. 58 of 214).