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Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery
     

Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery

by Bernard Lewis
 

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Hailed as "the doyen of Middle Eastern studies" in The New York Times Book Review, Bernard Lewis stands at the height of his field. "To read Mr. Lewis," wrote Fouad Ajami in The Wall Street Journal, "is to be taken through a treacherous terrain by the coolest and most reassuring of guides. You are in the hands of the Islamic world's foremost living

Overview

Hailed as "the doyen of Middle Eastern studies" in The New York Times Book Review, Bernard Lewis stands at the height of his field. "To read Mr. Lewis," wrote Fouad Ajami in The Wall Street Journal, "is to be taken through a treacherous terrain by the coolest and most reassuring of guides. You are in the hands of the Islamic world's foremost living historian." Now this sure-handed guide takes us through treacherous terrain indeed--the events of 1492, a year laden with epic events and riven by political debate. With elegance and erudition, Lewis explores that climactic year as a clash of civilizations--a clash not only of the New World and the Old, but also of Christendom and Islam, of Europe and the rest. In the same year that Columbus set sail across the Atlantic, he reminds us, the Spanish monarchy captured Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the peninsula, and also expelled the Jews. Lewis uses these three epochal events to explore the nature of the European-Islamic conflict, placing the voyages of discovery in a striking new context. He traces Christian Europe's path from being a primitive backwater on the edges of the vast, cosmopolitan Caliphate, through the heightening rivalry of the two religions, to the triumph of the West over Islam, examining the factors behind their changing fortunes and cultural qualities. Balanced and insightful, this far-reaching discussion of the encounters between Islam, the West, and the globe provides a new understanding of the distant events that gave shape to the modern world.

Editorial Reviews

Gilbert Taylor
Academe's reigning Orientalist examines 1492, and all that. Lewis last entered the library lists with his essay collection "Islam and the West" (1993), and this pithy lecture (delivered in 1993) again displays a coruscating mind at work. The focus is Columbus, Ferdinand, and Isabella's Catholic reconquest of the Moors and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Since the quincentennial of these occasions inspired "penitence and self-flagellation [by] those who could be identified with the perpetrators," Lewis offers a view on a continental scale of the Christian/Islamic rivalry and the case for appreciating the eventual expansion of Europe, while acknowledging its attendant evils. Lewis dislikes the modish view that misunderstanding causes geopolitical hostility; the two universalist religions understood each other only too well, as he writes about events of the millennium, until the Turks failed to take Vienna in 1683. Though this essay defends the globalization of Western concepts that began in 1492, its viewpoint rests on a sympathetic understanding of Islam, and its absorption of the expelled Jews, born of lifelong study. An erudite contribution to the issues of multiculturalism.
From the Publisher

"A fascinating and necessary text. A must-read for anyone interested in Europe at one of its most striking moments. The text balances out our understanding of Islam and its impact on Europe."--James Lusueur, University of La Verne

"The author avoids simplistic, good guy-bad guy interpretations; there are plenty of sins to go around."--The Dallas Morning News

"A sharply etched picture....Neither blindly celebratory nor unthinkingly self-flagellating, it offers a vivid interpretation of all three of the major events of 1492....Civilized, humane, [and] erudite over an enormous range."--Times Literary Supplement

"An elegant book."--Kirkus Reviews

"Lewis writes with unsurpassed erudition and grace."--The Washington Times

"Lewis's Western orientation and definitive knowledge of Eastern life and religion lead him to some unusual deductions that are well thought out and presented. This short course in the Age of Discovery should prove a useful tool."--Susan H. Woodcock, School Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199840533
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
01/18/1996
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
717,239
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Bernard Lewis is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, at Princeton University. His many books include The Shaping of the Modern Middle East, Islam and the West, Race and Slavery in the Middle East, and The Muslim Discovery of Europe.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Princeton, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
May 31, 1916
Place of Birth:
London, England
Education:
B.A., University of London, 1936; Diplome des Etudes Semitiques, University of Paris, 1937; Ph.D., University of London,

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