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

Bernard Lewis
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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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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The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror + What Went Wrong?: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response + The Middle East: 2000 Years Of History From The Birth Of Christia: 2000 Years of History from the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day
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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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,614 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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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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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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38 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 30 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As someone with some familiarity with the Middle East and Islam and keen to know more, this book was perfect. Its style was more journalistic than academic and information and argument were set out clearly and concisely. Bernard Lewis manages to cover a lot of ground in this short book (only about 140 pages). I found the book so interesting that I managed to read it in a day. Perhaps some of the editing was not perfect and often there is a tendency to repeat points or jump around a bit logically, although the indexing and bibliography are good.
Overall, I enjoyed the book for its balance, objectivity, engaging style and excellent content. I definitely feel much more enlightened and I am hoping to read more of Bernard Lewis's writings on the Middle East.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Does the job well! 4 July 2014
Format:Paperback
I have been on the lookout for a brief and concise book about Islam for some time now, and this is it. To really understand what is going on in the world right now with regards to the “rift” between the Arab world and the west, you must at least have some fundamental understanding of history, both short and long term. It is possible to empathize with a view without agreeing with it, in fact it is essential if you really want to understand what is going on. It is also important to draw distinctions in a world where reaction abounds and often distorts facts through generalization. This book delivers all these things, and in a way anyone can understand.

The book has been criticized by some as an over-simplistic explanation, but this overlooks the fact that to many, simple is as much a requirement as it is a convenience. There is nothing wrong with simplifying facts, provided they are not distorted. This book clearly intends to serve as a layman’s guide to what could undoubtedly fill several hefty volumes, and it does a good job of it. I would strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the facts, but perhaps not enough time to make a rigorous study of it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 1 month 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 16 months ago by Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant concise history of Isman
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... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Bacchus
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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading
Bernard Lewis' slight volume explains the reasons and causes behind the current climate of terrorism and Islamic radicalism. Read more
Published on 9 July 2003 by "freakmode"
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