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Islam In History: Ideas, People, And Events In The Middle East Paperback – Feb 1 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: CARUS PUBLISHING; 2nd Revised edition edition (Feb. 1 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812692179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812692174
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,945,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Library Journal

Lewis (Near Eastern studies, Emeritus, Princeton Univ.) is noted for his many valuable historical works on the Middle East. This revised and updated collection of historical essays (Alcove, 1973) adds commentary on more recent events such as Anwar Sadat's assassination, the Salman Rushdie controversy, Khomeini's rise to power, and the surprising support of Sadam Hussein by some Arab groups. Nineteen of the original 21 essays have been reworked and combined with 13 additional historical/historiographical essays focused on contemporary events. Lewis's lucid style brings a fresh perspective and understanding to scholar and casual reader alike. Highly recommended.
- Paula I. Nielson, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, is considered the leading expert on Islam in the West. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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During the nineteenth century the forms, language, and to some extent even the structures of public life in the Muslim countries were given a Western and therefore a secular appearance. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
As Professor Lewis states in the Preface to the second edition of this work, "Islam in History" is a collection of thirty-two articles on Islam. Anybody wishing to gain some understanding of this very important, very misunderstood, and very troubled civilization, should read this book. Lewis, once again, provides the reader with a magnificent work that is not pedantic but instructive, that does not belittle its subject nor its audience, and that demonstrates how necessary true scholarship is, particularly in times such as these.
The book is divided into eight parts: Western Approaches, Muslim History and Historians, Muslims and Jews, Turks and Tatars, In Black and White, History and Revolution, New Ideas, and New Events. Since this new edition dates from 1993, the recent developments in the world should not be expected. However, I really meant it when I wrote that true scholarship is necessary in our world: in the last essay of this volume, Lewis writes that there have been basically two atitudes from Muslims to confront the problems of the Islamic/Arab world (he does not deal with the East-Asian Mulims, like Indonesians and Malaysians, because he admits that he does not know much about them), divided into two questions. The first one is "What did we do wrong?" The second is "Who did this to us?" The first question leads to the search for solutions. The second question, and this deserves to be quoted at length, "leads to delusions and fantasies and conspiracy theories--indeed, the most dangerous enemies of the Muslim peoples at this time are those who assure them that in all their troubles the fault is not in themselves but in open or occult hostile forces.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
When true scholarship proves its worth. Dec 20 2001
By sid1gen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As Professor Lewis states in the Preface to the second edition of this work, "Islam in History" is a collection of thirty-two articles on Islam. Anybody wishing to gain some understanding of this very important, very misunderstood, and very troubled civilization, should read this book. Lewis, once again, provides the reader with a magnificent work that is not pedantic but instructive, that does not belittle its subject nor its audience, and that demonstrates how necessary true scholarship is, particularly in times such as these.
The book is divided into eight parts: Western Approaches, Muslim History and Historians, Muslims and Jews, Turks and Tatars, In Black and White, History and Revolution, New Ideas, and New Events. Since this new edition dates from 1993, the recent developments in the world should not be expected. However, I really meant it when I wrote that true scholarship is necessary in our world: in the last essay of this volume, Lewis writes that there have been basically two atitudes from Muslims to confront the problems of the Islamic/Arab world (he does not deal with the East-Asian Mulims, like Indonesians and Malaysians, because he admits that he does not know much about them), divided into two questions. The first one is "What did we do wrong?" The second is "Who did this to us?" The first question leads to the search for solutions. The second question, and this deserves to be quoted at length, "leads to delusions and fantasies and conspiracy theories--indeed, the most dangerous enemies of the Muslim peoples at this time are those who assure them that in all their troubles the fault is not in themselves but in open or occult hostile forces. Such beliefs can only lead to resentment and frustration, to an endless, useless succession of bigots and tyrants and to a role in world history aptly symbolized by the suicide bomber. In the first of these questions ["What did we do wrong?], for those who have the courage to ask it, and the vision to answer, lies hope for the future and for a new dawn of Muslim creativity."
Professor Lewis wrote those lines in 1993, but they are as relevant today as if he had written them on September 12, 2001. In fact, the last number of "The Atlantic Monthly" has an article by Professor Lewis where he presents this basic premise once more, since it was true a decade ago and it is true today.
I cannot recommend Bernard Lewis's books strongly enough. This one, as all his other books that I have read, is erudite, informative, interesting, serious, entertaining and, above all, important. If you have never read anything by him, but are interested in this book, read his recent article in "The New Yorker" ("The Revolt of Islam"), and the already mentioned article in "The Atlantic." Those articles will serve as an Introduction to "Islam in History." Bernard Lewis is an extraordinary scholar, and we are lucky to have him with us.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Where is the truth? Oct. 17 2011
By Stephen Waller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I understand that Prof Lewis is alleged to be an expert in middle eastern studies, and is the "go to guy" when leaders want to know details so they can make decisions regarding the region. I am not a leader. I am an educated 59 y/o physician who wanted to improve my understanding of the religion and people of the middle east. I gave this book my utmost attention and actually read it twice. I researched Dr Lewis, his life and myriad of accolades and awards.
I gave him every benefit of the doubt that he was indeed an expert in the field? However, after every effort on my behalf and giving my best attention I now know nothing more of the "people" of the Islamic faith, how and why they feel as they do toward the west than I did before I started. After enduring many lectures over my years of study Dr Lewis impresses me as a professor who enjoys hearing himself talk though knows little of the indepth material of which he speaks. When was the last time and for that matter how much time did Dr Lewis actually spend with the very people of the region for which he is so knowledgeable.
My only conclusion is that the audiance for which this particular book was written is a far more enlightened and educated group than which I am included. My personal advice to those are considering the purchase of this book is to save your money unless you too are a member of his exclusive club of intellectual middle east experts.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Classic Lewis July 16 2008
By Crayton Silsby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Lewis, as always, impresses; breadth of knowledge and research is typically outstanding. Flashes of good judgement, but pretentious and assertive (though mine's apparently an earlier edition: "Ideas, Men and Events...East" and he may've softened tone a touch for 2nd ed.)- and, regardless, it'd certainly be difficult to blame him for this-- the man's a thoroughbred. His philology isn't always accurate, and the spirit is truly 'orientalist' in Said's sense; nonetheless, a terribly enjoyable read and a classic source for a foundation in the subject.
ps- His Babel to Dragomans is even more impressive and should be compulsory.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Why do they hate us? Aug. 31 2008
By Harry Eagar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We can only wish that people in responsible positions in the West had read and absorbed the points Bernard Lewis makes in "Islam in History." He certainly tried.

Lewis is no ivory tower historian who writes recondite monographs for other ivory tower historians. Many of the essays collected here -- as well as his other, more recent collection "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" -- were published in various easily accessible, if high brow, venues, such as the New York Review of Books.

And they have been out for a while. The first edition of "Islam in History" was published in 1973. It received the attention due to a leading -- some would say, the leading -- Western scholar of Islam, but not the understanding. In the preface to this newer, revised and expanded but still rather elderly collection (1993), Lewis thanks those who helped him but, in his reserved but mordant style, adds, "I do not however feel obliged to defer to the judgments of those reviewers who in 1973 thought that I had underestimated 'the gains made by secularism in the Muslim world' and that I had exaggerated the significance of Muslim movements in Iran."

Touche. But with the experience of an additional 15 years, we can see that even Lewis was not pessimistic enough. And that the executors of history have learned nothing at all from Lewis' half century of brilliant insights.

Not that I think they are all brilliant, a point I will expand later. But in a 1992 essay, Lewis probed deeply into the question: Why do they hate us? That Muslims do hate the West and its values should hardly be debatable in 2008, although it still is debated. In 1992, Lewis was bemused by the rally to Saddam by Muslims and Western leftists. His core paragraph deserves to be quoted in full:

"But beyond all these (enthusiasms of Arabs for antidemocratic forces in Europe) there was and unfortunately still is a profound, pervasive, and passionate hatred of the West and all it represents, as a world power, as an ideology, as a way of life, and that hatred is extended to embrace a wide range of local Westernizers and modernizers. It is a hatred so deep that it has led those who feel it to rally to any plausible enemy of the West -- even a racist like Hitler who despised Arabs, an atheist like Stalin who suppressed Islam, a gangster like Saddam Hussein who violated every rule of Arab decency and Islamic morality."

Well, I don't think much of "Arab decency," but if George Bush had understood the arguments that underlie that paragraph, he would not still be making fatuous statements about Iraqi democracy. He might still have been justified in knocking off Saddam. Being the only man in history to depose a genocidal murderer from his throne, hale him into a court of law and see him convicted and hanged is no small achievement, and Muslims should thank him for it, but they don't; but to also expect the rescued Muslims to embrace political liberty was expecting much too much.

After long experience, we are entitled to ask, is Islam compatible with democracy or, as I prefer to phrase it because, as Lewis says, democracy is a slippery word, especially as used by Arabs, popular self-government? The answer appears to be no, and this is where I part ways with Professor Lewis.

His massive erudition does not always save him from making some odd mistakes. For example, he excludes Buddhism from the universalizing religions. Buddhism is, like Islam and Christianity, both salvationist and universalizing. It is not, however, monotheistic, which saves it from being obnoxious to freedom.

Closer to the topic, he accepts Turkey as a democracy. It is, obviously, a disguised military dictatorship, although now in the crisis of Islam's indifference -- or worse -- toward even pretend democracy. It is unlikely Turkey will still present itself as a democracy much longer.

In several essays, Lewis writes about the Islamic view that innovation is a sin. This helps explain the deep conservatism of Islamic societies, and the Young Turks are the exception that proves the rule.

In "The Guns of August," Barbara Tuchman has a long passage on the curious indifference, even antagonism, of the Young Turks toward Anatolia's long and, at times, brilliant history. "We like new things," she quotes one of them as saying.

Yes, and the Young Turks abandoned Islam. The mass of the Turkish population has not, however, even after eight decades of experiencing the supposed benefits of new things. It would be difficult to find any Islamic political movement that likes new things, although Lewis astringently observes that some of the most reactionary -- like Khomeini -- blandly adopt Western forms when it suits them, like parliaments. When challenged, they are usually able to manufacture an Islamic justification, but there is, Lewis points out, no warrant in Islam for such a thing.

Lewis's particular merit -- among many -- is his willingness to notice the obvious. This is especially appealing in the last, most currently impressive essay (the one I quoted from), "The Middle East Crisis in Historical Perspective." But it is a characteristic virtue. In "Behind the Rushdie Affair," for example, Lewis manages to skewer not only Khomeini but a passel of Islamic jurisconsults for ignoring the very obvious violations of Islamic law in the fatwa.

This habit probably helps explain why Muslims and their apologists hate Lewis so much. This is strange, because Lewis, though not ignorant of Islam's flaws, is overall an admirer of this ancient system that once reveled "in the glorious days when Muslims led mankind in the arts and sciences of civilization."

The historical record, as I read it, does not show any such days, and at this point we are entitled to wonder whether the "ignorance, poverty and arbitrary rule" that Lewis identifies as Islam's modern flaws are not actually its necessary outcomes. Suicidal martyrs are known in Christianity and in other societies, but they are a wasting asset in every society but Islam.

We have to wonder why.
Islamic history Jan. 10 2012
By Ray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written from a Western point of view, this book attempts a balanced look at Islam. It takes a linguistic view at the processes and presents Arabic terms that describes those processes.


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