MESA Book Awards
2020 Nikki Keddie Book Award Honorable Mention
Oualdi’s book stands out among several impressive books that de-center and reorient Middle Eastern history by following illuminating travelers. It is focused on a former Caucasian slave who becomes an Ottoman dignitary in Tunisia, from where he is posted to Italy. The book examines the complex arbitration of his estate following his death there. Oualdi’s historiographical positioning of this story shows that the Ottoman era in Tunisia did not simply cease with the arrival of the French. This represents a considerable intervention into the periodization and conceptualization of North African history. The book is admirably readable and creatively insightful in its use of a rich evidentiary base.