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The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror | [Bernard Lewis]

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror

Bernard Lewis examines the historical roots of the frustrations and resentments that dominate the Islamic world today and that are increasingly being expressed in acts of terrorism. He looks at the theological origins of political Islam and tells us what the Islamic doctrine of jihad has meant at different times in history.
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Publisher's Summary

Bernard Lewis examines the historical roots of the frustrations and resentments that dominate the Islamic world today and that are increasingly being expressed in acts of terrorism. He looks at the theological origins of political Islam and tells us what the Islamic doctrine of jihad has meant at different times in history. And he takes us, as only he can, through the rise of militant Islam in Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, examining the impact of radical Wahabi proselytizing and Saudi oil money on the rest of the Islamic world.

Crisis of Islam ranges widely through 13 centuries of history, but in particular it charts the key events of the 20th century leading up to the bitter and violent confrontations of today. The Second World War, the creation of the state of Israel, the Cold War, the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and the September 11th attacks on the United States have all shaped Muslim perceptions in important ways.

While hostility toward the West has a long and varied history in the lands of Islam, its current concentration on America is new. So too is the cult of the suicide bomber. Bernard Lewis helps us understand the reasons for the increasingly dogmatic rejection of modernity by many in the Muslim world in favor of a return to a sacred past. Based on his George Polk Award-winning article for The New Yorker, The Crisis of Islam is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what Osama bin Ladin represents and why his murderous message resonates so widely in the Islamic world.

©2003 Bernard Lewis; (P)2003 Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Remarkably succinct...offers a long view in the midst of so much short-termism and confusing punditry. Lewis has done us all - Muslim and non-Muslim alike - a remarkable service." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A timely and provocative contribution to the current raging debate about the tensions between the West and the Islamic world." (Business Week)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Manuel Mexico, N/A, Mexico 09-17-03
    Manuel Mexico, N/A, Mexico 09-17-03
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    "Good and relevant analysis"

    This book does a great job in explaining the diferences between the West and Islam. It makes the diferences between the two side clear and also shows the chalenges that have to be overcomed in order to solve a conflict of more than a thousand years. In todays world this is a very relevant book which will help to understand the issues in the Middle East and Europe

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RJ 12-06-03
    RJ 12-06-03 Member Since 2001
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    "Likes Islam to be Ataturked out of existence"

    Bernard Lewis' premise is that the best example of Islam is the state of Turkey or, more precisely, a state modeled on the 'reforms' of Kemal Ataturk.
    Ataturk the 'hero' of modern Turkey murdered and imprisoned thousands of Imams, sufis and religious people who did not conform to his vision of Islam. Among the 'blessings' of his reformist vision were to forbid the call to prayer in Arabic, mandating the pre-islamic name of the pagan turkic tribes for their god rather than that in the Quran, the wearing of brimmed hats by men (hats which made it impossible to pray in the prescribed muslim way) and many other 'reforms'which, in essence, made it impossible to follow the prescriptions of Islamic practice (note: I am referring to personal religious duties which have no impact on state affairs). Ataturk died of liver disease from his alchoholism - a truly great example of his 'reformed way of life'.
    Since Bernard Lewis admires his vison of Islam, one can only assume that Mr lewis would like an Islam where no one actually practises; where they carry the name 'muslim' with none of the 'baggage' of adhering to the teachings (and I am not talking about radical fundamentalism here).

    13 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zach New York, NY, USA 01-04-04
    Zach New York, NY, USA 01-04-04 Member Since 2012
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    "Crisis of Islam"

    I chose this book because I wanted to know more about the Mideast, and particularly, about the roots of terrorism. I listened to the book over the past week and finished it a couple of days ago.

    Tonite I watched the news playing the translation of another tape released by bin Laden. Having read Crisis of Islam, for the first time, I felt like I understood the history and allusions referred to in bin Laden's message.

    I am going to listen to Crisis of Islam a second time to try to absorb more (and have also purchased his other book "History of the Mideast and am reading this detailed and interesting history as well).

    In sum, an informative, interesting and relevant book - would highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn about the world post 9/11. By the way, I found the author's reading to be excellent, conveying the inflection and tone to match his words.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Rancho Cordova, CA, USA 05-14-03
    Wayne Rancho Cordova, CA, USA 05-14-03
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    "A confirmation of the danger of fundamentalism."

    This book confirms the use of religion to cover some of the darker aspecrts of basic human nature. Like Fundamentalist Christianity, Fundamentalist Islam is used to promote and support self interests and biases of one group over another. Islam was used to justify invasion and domination just like the medieval Crusades and later invasions. This work addresses this without burying us completely in Western bias on the topic. Very edifying.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert irvine, CA, USA 12-15-04
    Robert irvine, CA, USA 12-15-04
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    "borring!"

    I tried. I mean, I REALLY tried to listen to this one. But man this guy nearly put me into a coma! It isn't the length, it is just out of this world mind numbing. This was the first audio book (out of 7) that really put me to sleep.

    It is like listening to a monotone history lecture. If you are a history buff that enjoyed the "talking to the blackboard" lectures is college, then this is right up your alley. I just couldn't connect though, although I really wanted to. I heard the author on NPR and was really interested in the topic. I just couldnt handle the guys boring voice.

    4 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Raleigh, NC, USA 01-20-04
    Janet Raleigh, NC, USA 01-20-04
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    "Good info, boring reader"

    In a time when we need to understand more about others in the world, I found that this book did not help ... not because of the content but because of the reader. I think I'd rather read the print version because the audio version was boring, boring, boring. I made it only 1/5 of the way through.

    4 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Max Hollmann Florida 06-30-10
    W. Max Hollmann Florida 06-30-10 Member Since 2008

    Non Fiction Reader

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    "A Must Read!"

    Concise, insightful, informational. It's obvious this man has studied Islam, its people and most importantly its politics. He can explain muslim thinking and how it impacts current events. One of the best books on Islam. The others were also written by Lewis.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Cheryl Pleasant Hill, CA, USA 01-28-06
    Cheryl Pleasant Hill, CA, USA 01-28-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Good primer for understanding anti-west sentiments"

    As a die hard supporter of secular governments I find myself alarmed at the current interpretations of the Islamic faith based states. It may not matter if the motivation is true faith, greed, anger,jealous, ignorance or a combination - the results will be the same - generations of hate, violence and death. I wonder, would a shift in world fuel from Oil to something else not found in the Holy Lands and Middle East be enough of a catalyst to change the dynamics??? I'd like to read more about the economics involved ... follow the money so to speak.
    And I will proudly set aside my religious beliefs in honor of your secular rights and expect the same in return.

    I did not rate this book higher because the book/author/narrator were hard to follow sometimes and the book would have benefited from better organization and editing.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Marenisco, MI, USA 01-04-06
    James Marenisco, MI, USA 01-04-06
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    "Very informative"

    Great book and a good reading. The historical data is very valuable in understanding the current crisis in the middle east.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Arroyo Grande, CA, USA 10-21-05
    Liz Arroyo Grande, CA, USA 10-21-05
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    "Foreign Policy Makers Must Listen to This Book"

    This book is amazing, insightful and very, very scary. I sure hope the foreign policy makers in this country have read or listened to this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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