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Posted May 25, 2002
Soft Peddles Dark Side of Islamic History
I have a different take on this book than the reviewers below. As an American who lives overseas in an African country where Muslims comprise a significant segment of the population, I found book to be overly deferential to the various Islamic regimes it discusses. Believe me, in Africa, many ¿ maybe most -- Muslim leaders have been and continue to be aggressive and intolerant of those with whom they disagree. Many of the leaders want to impose sharia law, which is bad enough if you¿re Muslim, but it¿s really bad if you¿re Christian, and in Nigeria where the country is about half and half Christian/Muslim the leaders of several Nigerian states have imposed sharia law. When the Nigerian Supreme Court recently declared this unconstitutional, the political leaders of these states said they¿d ignore the Court! Lewis minimizes the brutality that has characterized much (though not all) of the history of the Islamic world, highlights the failings of the West, and minimizes the contributions of the Europe and the U.S. to humanizing the governments of the non-Western world. He bends over backwards to avoid offending supporters of the Islamic world. That one of the reviewers below thinks this book is too hard on Islam just demonstrates the rigidity of a prevalent type of Islamic thinking that takes offence at the slightest criticism. (I notice he thinks it¿s a good thing that France criminalizes certain forms of academic speech ¿ just like a lot of Muslim regimes. And contrary to what the reviewer below says, Lewis goes out of his way in this book to make a distinction between modernization and Westernization in the Islamic world.) If you want to learn more about the development of Islam, Lewis¿s book will provide you a brief and well written intro, but be forewarned that it significantly understates the pitiful human rights record of Islamic regimes both ancient and modern.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2002
Does Hannan know more than a Princeton Professor?
He may or he may not, but it seems very safe to say that he knows a lot more than a certain 'Duke Professor'. The shortcomings of 'What Went Wrong', many of which were lucidly exposed by Hannan, are alarming. They are alarming and considerable grounds for concern as they have Bernard Lewis as their source. For many, like Mr. Anders of Duke, accept without question his rendition of the facts and the conclusions he ultimately draws. Sadly, books like these do little to bridge cultural gaps; it may not be too wide of the mark to say such books widen them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.