Bernard Lewis is recognized around the globe as one of the leading authorities on Islam. Hailed as the world's foremost Islamic scholar (Wall Street Journal), as a towering figure among experts on the culture and religion of the Muslim world (Baltimore Sun), and as the doyen of MiddleEastern studies (New York Times), Lewis is nothing less than a national treasure, a trusted voice that politicians, journalists, historians, and the general public have all turned to for insight into the Middle East.Now, this revered authority has brought together writings and lectures that he has written over four decades, featuring his reflections on Middle Eastern history and foreign affairs, the Iranian Revolution, the state of Israel, the writing of history, and much more. The essays cover such urgentand compelling topics as What Saddam Wrought, Deconstructing Osama and His Evil Appeal, The Middle East, Westernized Despite Itself, The Enemies of God, and Can Islam be Secularized? The collection ranges from two English originals of articles published before only in foreign languages, topreviously unpublished writings, to his highly regarded essays from publications such as Foreign Affairs and The New York Review of Books. With more than fifty pieces in all, plus a new introduction to the book by Lewis, this is a valuable collection for everyone interested in the Middle East.Here then is a rich repository of wisdom on one of the key areas of the modern world--a wealth of profound reflections on Middle Eastern history, culture, politics, and current events.
As this collection of writings and speeches from the last 40 years demonstrates once again, Lewis is probably the world's most erudite scholar of the Middle East. The pieces cover virtually all aspects of the region--from medieval Turkish history to the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and everything in between. Food for thought abounds: In one essay, Lewis notes that Islam and Christianity had different relations to Judaism because while Christianity wanted to replace Judaism, Islam was more comfortable incorporating Judaism into its traditions. The pieces are divided into three sections: past history, present history and reflections on the historical profession as it relates to the Middle East. The essays are more scholarly than Lewis's bestselling What Went Wrong?--for instance, one focuses on etymology and the origins of propaganda in early Arabic states. As a whole, they demonstrate Lewis's long-held contention that Islam has been unable to modernize and a clash of civilizations with the West was inevitable. Lewis is considered one of the intellectual architects of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, so it is of interest that in one essay, he asks what the West should do to help bring about change in the Middle East, and answers, "As little as possible." (Confused readers should note that the essay was written in 1957.) As a result of its scholarly bent, this book may attract a narrower audience than his other recent works, but they reflect the thinking of a profound mind.
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
September 14, 2005
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