For many centuries, Islam was the world's greatest, most open, most enlightened, most creative, most powerful civilisation. And then everything ...Show synopsisFor many centuries, Islam was the world's greatest, most open, most enlightened, most creative, most powerful civilisation. And then everything changed, as the previously despised West won victory after victory, first on the battlefield and in the marketplace, then in almost every aspect of public and even private life. Bernard Lewis examines the anguished reaction of the Islamic world as it tried to understand why things had changed, and he provides a fascinating portrait of a culture in turmoil. Some Middle Easterners asked not 'who did this to us?' but 'where did we go wrong?'; while others fastened blame on a series of scapegoats, both internal and external - and the results are very much with us today.Hide synopsis
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I heard Lewis on c-span's book tv and was impressed by what appears to be impeccable scholarship, and clear thinking focused on real time issues. After 9/11, I assume that these are the urgent issues of out time. I read this and two other of his books immediately.
On the plus side, Lewis's presentation is succinct and well written. In the course of an hour or two, I can say that I had a far better grasp of Islam, its founder, its history, and the difficulty that Muslims have facing the democratic notions of shared power and what we politely call cultural diversity. And I suppose that I have to say that the questions that Lewis raises and leaves unanswered are also on the plus side. I had to continue my reading, delving into Karen Armstrong, Reza Aslan,Vali Nasr, et al to look for answers to questions that might possibly make me an informed citizen in a world that has to include Islam in a way that we in the West have not been forced to consider since the Muslims were driven from Spain more that 500 years ago.
Maybe there are no minuses to Lewis's work.
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