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The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror [Paperback]

Bernard Lewis
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 Jan 2004
President Bush has made it clear that we are engaged in a war against terrorism. But for Usama bin Laden and his followers this is religious war, a war for Islam against infidels, especially the United States, the greatest power in the world of the infidels. In this book Bernard Lewis shows us where the anger and frustration have come from, and the extent to which almost the entire Muslim world is affected by poverty and tyranny. He looks at the influence of extreme Wahhabist doctrines in the Saudi kingdom, where custodianship of Islam's holy places and the revenues of oil have given worldwide impact to what would otherwise have been an extremist fringe in a marginal country. He looks at American double standards, which have long caused Muslim anger, and tells us the real meaning of `Islamic fundamentalism', `jihad' and `fatwa', and why the peoples of the Middle East are conscious of history in a way most Americans find difficult to understand.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (8 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753817527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753817520
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 192,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

This has now just slipped off the Top Ten of the SUNDAY TIMES bestseller list which it has been on for a number of weeks. It was also featured in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH'S Books of the Moment on 26 April. Reviews not surprisingly havebeen excellent and they're still coming in: 'Lewis is brief and authoritative.'Michael Binyon, THE TIMES 'Readers who have been saturated with televisioncoverage and newspaper articles since 9/11 will find much to enlighten them in this book. Lewis writes clearly and elegantly, and his style is refreshingly free from academic jargon'Malise Ruthen, THE SUNDAY TIMES 'Bernard Lewis is not only the most eminent of living Arabists; he is also by far the most interesting.His latest book began life as a long essay for the New Yorker in November 2001, soon after the Twin Towers were struck; the rest of the text is new. The author's characteristic virtues are all very much in evidence: concision, readability, dry wit and devastating logic. This is vintage Bernard Lewis: he improves with age.'Daniel Johnson,THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'Bernard Lewis has an authority all his own. In his eighties now, he has devoted a lifetime to the study of all aspects of Islam.He is the best available guide to the fraught and mostly unequal relationships which have developed over such a long time between Muslims and non-Muslims, and which so bedevil the present. Humanist in outlook and an exceptional linguist, Lewis is, on top of everything else, a graceful writer."David Pryce-Jones, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Lucid and stylish'THE ECONOMIST 'Bernard Lewis shows himself again to be a master of his material, a graceful essayist and a shrewd analyst of the complexities of Middle Eastern politics and religion.'Bill McSweeney, THE IRISH TIMES 'He delivershis argument in clear prose which will entertain and fascinate the non-expert.'THE IRISH EXAMINER We have reviews still to come in THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE OBSERVER and THE SPECTATOR. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

The great scholar of Islam directly confronts the events of September 11th and the reasons behind Islamic terrorism in the modern world - a Sunday Times bestseller.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Crisis of Islam 7 Oct 2012
By Bacchus TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The Crisis of Islam is [as one other reviewer aptly put it] a slim elegantly written guide to the history the Islamic World that put into context some of the terrorist attacks committed by Islamist groups. The book was written in 2003 and was clearly intended to explain and put into context the terrible events on 9th September 2001 when Al Quaidau suicide bombers deliberately killed thousands of people [including many non Americans and even muslims] in New York and Washington.

The writer, Bernard Lewis, was a professor at Princeton University [but British born and educated] and an expert in the history of Islam and the Middle East. His understanding of this area of study led to him being consulted by George Bush in trying to understand the nature of the hatred that most Muslims [apparently] have to the United States of America despite that nation's efforts to bring peace and stability to the Middle East. Having read the bok, the hopes of America succeeding in this enterprise appear forlorn to me.

I have always been struck by the contrast between the Muslims I meet and work with [with whom I enjoy friendly relations] and the angry ones who commit atrocities and who hold entirely unreconstructed views about women's rights and other issues that you hear reported in the news.

My recent reading of books aboout this whole subject has put these contrasts into context. First of all, Lewis reminds us that Christianity and Islam are very similar faiths in which the similarities far outweigh the differences. We should not forget that the history of Christendom has seen many of its own atrocities, like the Holocaust.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spotlight on the mindset behind Islamic extremism 30 April 2003
Format:Hardcover
Many of the most intractible flashpoints in the world today arise where the Islamic and Judeo-Christian worlds clash. The list of recent past includes the invasion of Iraq, the Russian and then American-led invasions of Afghanistan, the clash in Israel and 9/11. One particular problem shared by the US and its allies is that of Islamic extremism.
This slim, elegantly written volume (127 pages) distils the events which have created the mindset of Islamic extremists today. Themes include recent poverty and tyranny in Muslim countries, Islamic underperformance against European based cultures, the requirement of Muslims to convert non Muslims, and the way history has shaped the attitudes of Muslim extremists. The quite recent emergence of extremism with global reach is traced.
Themes are covered with a light but deft touch and provide a marvellous insight into what has led to the hatred felt by many Muslims for the West and in particular the "Great Satan."
This is a very good book about an issue all too prevalent in world affairs. It distils years of study by the author and presents a complex subject with great clarity. While easy answers are not obvious, this book provides the next best thing, which is an understanding of the issues. I for one will be reading other books by Bernard Lewis.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading 9 July 2003
Format:Hardcover
Bernard Lewis' slight volume explains the reasons and causes behind the current climate of terrorism and Islamic radicalism. He explains in detail the theory behind Al Qaeda leader Usama Bin Laden's call for jihad, the true nature of the religion of Islam and most interestingly the reason behind many Muslims anti-Americansm and anti- Western thinking.It also discusses the role of the USSR, and sheds insight into how and why American foreign policy came to be the shambles it is today. A fair and unbiased approach, this book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the true causes of terrorism, distrust and misconceptions associated with Islam and provides a good alternative to the overload of writings blaming Islamic radicalism on anti-semitic and anti-zionist philosophy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 29 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is another fantastic book written by an author who has contributed in the understanding and the failures of Muslims. If people from the Muslim world actually looked in the mirror a little critically then maybe they would be celebrating the potential of what they can achieve. Instead of looking at the "glorious" past the need to consider the future for the sake of peace is now essential.

The book tackles some of the short coming of the many thinkers from the last 400 years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and important book 17 Feb 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The focus of this book is the question, `Why is so much of Islam seemingly antagonistic with the West?' Lewis attempts to answer this question by tracing the struggles between the Muslim world and the European powers, and later, America, the main object of hatred according to the argument of the book. Lewis argues that the reasons for this hatred are multi-factorial. Factors include the sense of loss and embarrassment because of increasing Western progress; a loathing of Western materialism, and ultimately, America's meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. Key also are certain individuals such as Sayyid Qutb, who, shocked at the level of American morality (even in churches) wrote powerfully against what he perceived as the `new age of ignorance' (clearly a powerful issue as Islam was to replace an age of ignorance).

Lewis's book is very well researched and balanced, and the historical material receives full treatment, dispelling many myths along the way. As with other writers, he locates much of today's problems with the cult of Wahabbism. This book is a clear and excellent introduction towards an understanding of the motivations and aspirations of political Islam, and a thoroughly engaging read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent analysis and informative
An excellent analysis and informative, but very little bit deviation to the favour of America, Such favour is acceptable and the book is easy to understand and scholarly written as... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sujan Chowdhury
5.0 out of 5 stars Does the job well!
I have been on the lookout for a brief and concise book about Islam for some time now, and this is it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nathaniel Dean James
5.0 out of 5 stars great scholar on Islam past and present
very good read on terrorism, jihad, holy war and an unbiased view on what has motivated it. it covers historical and contemporary reasons. very good and easy to read book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by danny
5.0 out of 5 stars World-Changing but Oft-Forgotten Horrible Histories
In this book, Bernard Lewis delivers a concise account of the course of Islamic history in relation to world history, very nicely dissecting for display in a simple readable... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sean
3.0 out of 5 stars Feels unfinished
This book is very readable and does contain some interesting information. However, it has a very unfinished feel to it. Read more
Published on 23 Jan 2011 by Random
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of information, some propaganda, few ideas
The book looks like a collection of facts and factoids loosely connected together by very unconvincingly presented ideas. Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2010 by Timur Lenk
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Got this book to try and get a better understanding of Islam and the history of the religion, found the book to be quite enlightening and didn`t get too much into heavy issues but... Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2005
2.0 out of 5 stars Lewis does it again
Once again Lewis does it - generalise about westeners, muslims etc. Lewis is problematic, in this book too, since he has a tendency to view the Middle East through culturalist... Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2005 by charlotte storm
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
As someone with some familiarity with the Middle East and Islam and keen to know more, this book was perfect. Read more
Published on 30 Mar 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars An additional important book on the subject
It was an interesting book but seemed slanted towards one side of the issue. It seems easy to blame the west for what goes on in the mideast . Read more
Published on 14 July 2003 by Robert
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