Uncovering the roots of Britain's relationship with Islam, this title tells the story of the Islamic icon who launched a successful crusade against the West.
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This well-researched but reactionary history chronicles the little-known holy war (jihad) led by Sudanese cleric Muhammed Ahmed ibn `Abdullah-known as the "Mahdi" or "expected one"-against the English Empire. The initial armed encounter took place in late 1882, when 50,000 of the Mahdi's men obliterated a British garrison in Kordofan, after the English became embroiled in regional affairs due to financial concerns about the Suez Canal. Enraged, British Prime Minister Gladstone sent decorated war veteran Gen. Charles "Chinese" Gordon to reassert British control. While Mahdi had sheer manpower, Gordon had superior ammunition. But after holding off a 317-day siege of Khartoum, Gordon's forces crumbled in January 1885, when an Egyptian lieutenant helped the Mahdi into the city. However, the Mahdi died shortly thereafter and in 1899, his short-lived empire was put to rest by a renewed English offensive. Butler lays important tracks into the study of terror, fundamentalism and the early clash between Islam and Christianity, but his account is tarnished by an angry narrative tone, in which he casts Islam as murderous, inflexible and impervious to modernization, while General Gordon is civilization's savior destroyed by savages. 16 pages illus., maps. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Casemate Publishers & Book Distributors, LLC
April 30, 2007
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