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Meet the WritersImage of Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis took some time to answer a few of our questions:

What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?
A lot of books have influenced my life, but I suppose that the two that have had a consistent influence are the plays of Shakespeare and the Bible. I devoted a great deal of time to these books -- under constraint when I was a student, and by choice ever since. I am certainly more familiar with them than with any other.

What are your favorite books -- and why?
I must give a high place to Jane Austen's novels, and I would select two of them -- Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion -- two books that I like to refer to and dip into at random and always find both enjoyable and instructive.

Three books from the 18th century: One is Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson. Another is Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The third is a book I read many times when I was young and still go back to occasionally: Gulliver's Travels -- a rattling good yarn, and also a superb example of satirical self-criticism in Western civilization.

Two works of fiction dealing with the East: Rudyard Kipling's Kim is a superb and very sympathetic evocation of the sights and sounds and people of India, and J. J. Morier's Hajji Baba of Isfahan, a characterization of early-19th-century Iran so accurate that Persians long refused to believe that it was not translated from a Persian original.

Finally, some travel books about the East which I found particularly penetrating and accurate: A. W. Kinglake's Eothen and various books by Adolphus Slade.

What are you working on now?
A history of the Holy Land and a book on Islam and democracy.

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About the Writer
*Bernard Lewis Home
* Interview
*The Arabs in History, 1950
*The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 1961
*Istanbul: And the Civilization of the Ottoman Empire, 1963
*The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam, 1967
*The Cambridge History of Islam, 1970
*Islam in History, 1973
*History: Remembered, Recovered, Invented, 1975
*The Muslim Discovery of Europe, 1982
*The Jews of Islam, 1984
*Semites and Anti-Semites, 1986
*The Political Language of Islam, 1988
*Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, 1990
*Islam and the West, 1993
*The Shaping of the Modern Middle East, 1993
*Cultures in Conflict, 1995
*The Middle East, 1995
*The Future of the Middle East, 1997
*Multiple Identities of the Middle East, 1998
*A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History, 2000
*Music of a Distant Drum, 2001
*What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, 2002
*The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, 2003
*From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, 2004
Photo by Denise Applewhite