The Jews of Islam

Princeton University Press

Probing the Muslims' attitude toward Judaism as a special case of their view of other religious minorities in Islamic countries, Bernard Lewis demolishes two competing stereotypes: the fanatical warrior, sword in one hand and Qur' an in the other, and the Muslim designer of an interfaith utopia. Available for the first time in paperback, his portrayal of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition is set against a vivid background of Jewish and Islamic history.
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About the author

Bernard Lewis is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University, a long-term member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the author of numerous works on the Middle East.

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Additional Information

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 24, 2014
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History / Middle East / General
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In times of war and in peace, from the earliest days of the Roman Empire to our own, Westerners have journeyed to the lands of the middle east, bringing back accounts of their adventures and impressions. Yet it was never a one way exchange. From the first Arab embassy to the Vikings in the 9th century to the internet musings of the Taliban, A Middle East Mosaic collects a rich, boisterous literature of cultural exchange.

We see the American Revolution through the eyes of a Moroccan Ambassador and the French Revolution through a series of Imperial Ottoman proclamations. We find surprising portraits of Napoleon ("a brigand chief"), TE Lawrence and Ataturk. We learn what George Washington and Machiavelli through t of Turkish politics and hear Flaubert and Thackeray rail against eastern crime and punishment. We peer into Voltaire's business correspondence and follow the footsteps of Mark Twain, Richard Burton, Gertrude Bell and Ibn Battutta, the Marco Polo of the east. Great discoveries are recorded - an Egyptian Ambassador is introduced to electricity and dismisses the spectacle as "frankish trickery;" another pronounces the invention of a secure mail system most useful for assignations. We enter the harem with a 16th century organ maker and emerge with Ottoman reform.

It was not until the sixteenth century that the first middle eastern rulers entered into diplomatic relations with European rulers, but trade often precede diplomatic relations. Business men from the days of the crusades against Saladin to the oil prospecting of Samuel Cox and his descendents have seen great possibilities in the markets of the middle east. And throughout the centuries we have been united by war. We witness the outbreak of the Crimean war with Karl Marx and enter Egypt with Napoleon. We observe Arab customs with George Patton and visit Baghdad and Cairo with George F. Kennan in the second world war. When Usama bin Ladin rails against "Jews and crusaders" occupying the holy land, he is rehearsing a grievance with a long history.

This symphony of voices, full of wit and wisdom, spite and wonder, suspicion, befuddlement and occasional insight, is ordered and explained by our foremost living historian of the middle east. The fruit of a lifetime of scholarship and erudition, A Middle East Mosaic is a dazzling capstone to a brilliant career. In a spirited reappraisal of western views of the east and eastern views of the west over the last two thousand years,  Bernard Lewis gives us a brilliant over-view of 2,000 years of commerce, diplomacy, war and exploration.

This book is a delight, a treasury of stories drawn from letters, diaries and histories, but also from unpublished archives and previously untranslated accounts. Diplomats and interpreters, slaves, soldiers, pilgrims and missionaries, princes and spies, businessmen, doctors and priests all pour forth their stories of the people and events that shaped history. A Middle East Mosaic cannot fail to appeal to anyone with an appetite for history and a curiosity about the vagaries of cultural exchange.

From the Hardcover edition.
In his first book since What Went Wrong? Bernard Lewis examines the historical roots of the resentments that dominate the Islamic world today and that are increasingly being expressed in acts of terrorism. He looks at the theological origins of political Islam and takes us through the rise of militant Islam in Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, examining the impact of radical Wahhabi proselytizing, and Saudi oil money, on the rest of the Islamic world.

The Crisis of Islam ranges widely through thirteen centuries of history, but in particular it charts the key events of the twentieth century leading up to the violent confrontations of today: the creation of the state of Israel, the Cold War, the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and the September 11th attacks on the United States.

While hostility toward the West has a long and varied history in the lands of Islam, its current concentration on America is new. So too is the cult of the suicide bomber. Brilliantly disentangling the crosscurrents of Middle Eastern history from the rhetoric of its manipulators, Bernard Lewis helps us understand the reasons for the increasingly dogmatic rejection of modernity by many in the Muslim world in favor of a return to a sacred past. Based on his George Polk Award–winning article for The New Yorker, The Crisis of Islam is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what Usama bin Ladin represents and why his murderous message resonates so widely in the Islamic world.

From the Hardcover edition.
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 Middle Eastern 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 urgent and 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, to previously 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.
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