An engaging probe by a Hungarian Jewish authority -- a scholar with long Arab friendships -on Middle Eastern folk culture. The archetypal Arab character he constructs goes beyond the stereotypes, without contradicting them. There are many familiar tags -- fatalism, emotionalism, rhetoric, disunity, concern with ""face,"" personalization of political problems. Patai links the Arab character to the Bedouin tradition (e.g., its scorn for manual work) and to a pre-Islamic code of honor, where courage and hospitality are the principal virtues. He elaborates Arab child rearing practices (often failing to distinguish among different social classes and groups) and comes up with the theory that the Arab son's immediate access to his mother's breast on verbal demand may explain the grown male's habit of emphatic speech followed by passivity. The Arabic language's lack of what we consider logical past-present-future references is cited to underline the Arab's failure to have a rigorous time sense about history and everyday life. Patai further speculates that the Arabs hate Westerners more than the Turks, despite the length and cruelty of the latter's rule over them, partly for religious reasons but also because Westerners, unlike the Turks, used to be their inferiors. Patai throws out various imperatives about rationalizing Arabic and learning the dignity of labor, but the book as a whole expressed empathy rather than condemnation.