From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle Eastby Bernard Lewis
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The collection ranges from two English originals of articles published before only in foreign languages, to previously unpublished writings, to his highly regarded essays from publications such as Foreign Affairs and The New York Review of Books.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.
It is revealing that Lewis chose not to arrange these writings in chronological order, as if to suggest that his interpretations, if not timeless, at least have a long shelf life. In fact, his writings do reveal a remarkable consistency of thought over the decades. His arguments, ever forceful and subtle (a rare accomplishment in itself), are not easily summarized and are too many to list. Suffice it to note that included here is his famous "The Roots of Muslim Rage," which, when it first appeared in 1990, introduced the watchword "clash of civilizations" later brandished by Samuel Huntington. His several articles in support of the U.S. war of choice against Iraq (and the whole notion of an "axis of evil") reveal a Lewis who is more forceful than subtle.
"Historian Lewis has been one of the most prolific modern writers on the Middle East and Islam. Throughout his long career, he has made many of the intricacies of Middle Eastern history and Islamic civilization accessible to a broad audience of informed readers and academics in the West. In this latest book, Lewis offers a panorama of more than 50 previously published writings spanning more than four decades of academic life. Chapters in this volume come from scholarly publications, lectures, popular publications, and newspaper columns. The smorgasbord of topics covered includes medieval Islamic history, European encounters with the people of the Middle East, Pan-Arabism, Islam and the West, Ottoman History, and the contemporary developments in the Middle East and Muslim-Western relations."Library Journal
"For more than four decades, Lewis has been one of the most respected scholars and prolific writers on the history and politics of the Middle East. In this compilation of more than 50 journal articles and essays, he displays the full range of his eloquence, knowledge, and insight regarding this pivotal and volatile region.... For both scholars and layreaders, the writings of Lewis remain essential."Booklist
"As this collection of writings and speeches from the last 40 years demonstrates once again, Lewis is probably the world's most erudite scholar of the Middle East. The pieces cover virtually all aspects of the regionfrom medieval Turkish history to the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and everything in between. Food for thought abounds.... Reflects the thinking of a profound mind."Publishers Weekly
"The press of world events has transformed Bernard Lewis into the most public sort of intellectual, well into the emeritus phase of his scholarly career. His 2002 study, What Went Wrong?, shed much welcome, if controversial, light on the divergent courses of Islamic and Western civilization at a moment when the question could not be more urgent. Now in a new collection of essays, From Babel to Dragomans, Lewis teases out the implications of his earlier argument in a wide range of settings, from traditional Middle Eastern feasts and rituals to the anti-Western propaganda campaigns of al Qaeda."Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post
"At his best, Lewis can be witty, playful, and polymathically erudite.... A wonderful piece on 'Middle East Feasts,' published in these pages, gives him full opportunity to show off his astonishing linguistic range."New York Review of Books
Praise for Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong?:
15 Weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List
"Remarkably succinct.... A concise study of the Muslim world's responses to the West and of its own long, sad decline.... It offers a long view in the midst of so much short-term and confusing punditry. Lewis has done us all-Muslim and non-Muslim alike-a remarkable service."The New York Times Book Review
"Inestimable...replete with the exceptional historical insight that one has come to expect from the world's foremost Islamic scholar."The Wall Street Journal
"A timely and provocative contribution to the current ragin debate about the tensions between the West and the Islamic world."BusinessWeek
"No scholar of Islam in the Western world has more thoroughly earned the respect of generalists and academics alike than Bernard Lewis."Baltimore Sun
"Lewis's sharp-edged commentaries on what history means to Muslims...are what make him so much the scholar of the hour."U. S. News and World Report
"A provocative and suggestive review of Islamic response to ideas and practices of the Christian West.... Lewis has given us a thoughtful treatment of the historical backdrop of the September 11 tragedy."The Houston Chronicle
"For newcomers to the subject...Bernard Lewis is the man."Time
- Oxford University Press, USA
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.80(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Meet the Author
Bernard Lewis is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, at Princeton University. His most recent books are The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror and What Went Wrong?, both national bestsellers and the latter a New York Times Notable Book for 2002.
- Princeton, New Jersey
- Date of Birth:
- May 31, 1916
- Place of Birth:
- London, England
- B.A., University of London, 1936; Diplome des Etudes Semitiques, University of Paris, 1937; Ph.D., University of London,
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Outstanding look at important issues.
the more they remain the same. This old truism is a succinct description of this collection of essays and articles by Bernard Lewis. The collection spans well over half a century of scholarly work of this doyen of Orientalism and Near Eastern studies. It is a fascinating walk through many facets of the rich history of the Middle East, and if you are new to the subject, as I am, it is probably one of the best starting points to the field. Many articles touch upon the subject that are as relevant today as when Lewis first wrote about them, which in many ways is a bit unsettling. I am always a bit skeptical about the use of ancient feuds and disputes as a justification for modern-day conflicts, but if a certain theme persists more or less unchanged for many centuries, then it would be foolish to ignore it. This book can be an invaluable resource to anyone wishing to cast aside those foolishnesses and better understand what is going on in that part of the world. In the example of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Lewis convincingly shows how it was both ancient and modern, fundamentalist and contemporary. It would not do the full historical justice to treat it just in the light of the fundamentalist rhetoric, nor through a prism of contemporary revolutionary rhetoric. Showing the interplay of those two themes is what Lewis excels at, and this book is replete with similar examples.
This elegantly written collection is in a sense the product of a lifetime of study by one of the world's great scholars. It's broadness of vision, its humane relation to its subjects its deep deep knowledge make it a special treasure. It reads like a great work of literature and continually inspires with its insights. If there is one book published this year that I would recommend to everyone I know it is this one.