©2001 Bernard Lewis; (P)2002 Books on Tape
"Arguably the West's most distinguished scholar on the Middle East." (Newsweek)
"Lewis has done us all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, a remarkable service." (The New York Times Book Review)
"An excitingly knowledgeable antidote to today's natural sense of befuddlement." (The Baltimore Sun)
"Replete with the exceptional historical insight that one has come to expect from the world's foremost Islamic scholar." (The Wall Street Journal)
Some days you need to take a break from getting better and just enjoy a great tale. Whatever your mood you can find it here at Audible.
Both Bernard Lewis and Albert Hourani were recommended by my Arabic instructor as being reputable in both the Arab and Western Worlds. This book is brief in comparison to the works of Hourani. I would listen to this first. The narrator does a good job and the material is both interesting and relevant. This is good for both the casual and serious student of history. I’ve listened to all of the works available on Audible by this author and I would recommend them all.
The book starts and ends well, but looses its potency in between. I bought the book after seeing Mr. Lewis on CSPAN book review. Let's just say that his CSPAN interview provided more information in a lot less time. I do recognize Mr. Lewis as a western expert on Islam and I will continue to buy his books. I would recommend Karen Armstrong, however, to those who want more substance and a broader understanding.
The narrative was lush and the anecdotes enthralling. The information dense style requires multiple listening for full absorption. I had trouble with the time lines as the narrative whipsawed across centuries, leaving me with no full understanding of what happened when. The author switches between saying for example "in the sixteen hundreds" to saying " in the seventeenth century" which is saying the same thing but requires a mental switch on my part in order to follow. The mongol conquest of the fourteenth century was not covered at all. This is more than a minor omission. I now feel the need to go get another book that covers this topic. This book in totality is very informative if a little clumsy. It has the feel of an exceedingly smart author, unaccustomed to dealing with lay people. The treatment of the topic was very well balanced and has no hint of partisanship, nationalism or religious bent. The author is blunt without bludgeoning.
I got to this book through an essay by Martin Amis. I learned a great deal from it and begin to understand the dilemmas and obstacles from the history and structure of Islam. I would recommend this book easily and frequently. John Lee is often too heavy and distinctive for me as narrator. In this book he was perfect.
If you are looking for sociocultural information to help make some sense of what is going on over there today, just listen to the last chapter.
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