The Sword of Ambition

The Sword of Ambition

Bureaucratic Rivalry in Medieval Egypt

478 Pages

May 2016

ISBN: 9781479889457

PDF Download Free Arabic PDF




'Uthman ibn Ibrahim al-Nabulusi (d. 660/1262), of Palestinian origin, was a leading Egyptian bureaucrat in the court of the Ayyubid sultans. In addition to his pivotal work, The Sword of Ambition, he wrote several works on Egyptian administration and government, including A Presentation of the Living, Eternal God's Work in Regulating the Fayyum, the most extensive tax record that survives from the medieval Middle East.

Sherman Jackson is King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

Luke Yarbrough is Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at UCLA. His research is concerned with the history of the pre-modern Middle East and North Africa, including inter-communal relations, law and prescriptive discourses, Arabic historiography, the oral transmission of knowledge, and comparative history.


  • "Luke Yarbrough has done the field of medieval Middle Eastern history a service... [An] excellent edition and exemplary translation."

    Journal of the American Oriental Society

  • "An amazing narrative that combines erudition, poetry, belles lettres, history, law, and anecdotal accounts into a compelling work."

    Islamic Sciences

  • "Avery reader-friendly modern English version of this mediaeval Arabic text . . .Yarbrough's informative introduction usefully situates the book both in its own time and in terms of the later uses that have been made of it. . .Yarbrough's fine translation allows the contemporary English-speaking reader to hear the full range of its author's wheedling, monomaniacal voice."


  • "Luke Yarbrough is to be congratulated for a very fine piece of philological scholarship combining [a] first-class edition with a wonderful translation."

    Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

  • "[An] elegant and well-edited bilingual edition."

    Times Literary Supplement