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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thorough and thoroughly interesting
There is unlikely to be a more apt time for a book like this to be read. The stereotyping of Islam and therefore Muslims with the various wars going on around the world that seem be dividing 'the west' and Islam have all created many assumptions about Islam.

What this book does very thoroughly is explore the political and culture background within which Islam...
Published on 23 Dec. 2010 by Peter R

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the history of Islam in readable form
Well, for those interested in Islam this would be a good place to start.
The book is very well written (though sometimes in too much of an American way and style - as another reviewer pointed out, and flows from one chapter to the next and is pretty much chronological in order.
it basically quashes the entire history of the religion of Islam into 416 pages,...
Published on 25 May 2011 by Ibraar 'Le Saracen'


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thorough and thoroughly interesting, 23 Dec. 2010
By 
Peter R (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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There is unlikely to be a more apt time for a book like this to be read. The stereotyping of Islam and therefore Muslims with the various wars going on around the world that seem be dividing 'the west' and Islam have all created many assumptions about Islam.

What this book does very thoroughly is explore the political and culture background within which Islam arose. It explains in simple terms Islamic beliefs, how some of them arose, how the prophets tried to preserve the memory of the Prophet to fill in where the Qu'ran wasn't clear and so on.

The book traces the spread of Islam and its metamorphosis across the globe, its interactions with the west and even with its own secular modernists.

A fascinating read for those who wish to broaden their understanding beyond simply what they see or hear on the TV or by reading Daily Mail!

And a definite must for any historian.

Hope that helps.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light but fair, 13 Dec. 2010
By 
Pardo (Kent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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I enjoyed this book, although as I went on I found the author's light and folksy style starting to wear a bit thin at times. The book is very easy to read but the author has either picked up, or deliberately adopted, a middle-America tone to his writing since arriving in the States from Afghanistan. We get phrases like "he was just that kind of guy" and "...but wait, as they say on late night TV commercials, that's not all...". There is also regular use of dialogue which for the most part clearly cannot come from direct reporting. It all serves to make the book feel friendly and approachable, but possibly at the expense of intellectual rigour. Still, it is a perfectly enjoyable read (for the most part).

I'm nowhere near even thinly read on this subject, in fact I last gave the Crusades serious attention nearly thirty years ago in the sixth form (and then obviously from an exclusively western perspective), I've heard a couple of In Our Time's on Islamic subjects and my understanding of contemporary issues in the middle east is about the same as any other Radio 4 listening broadsheet reader. So, given that, I'm in no position to judge the accuracy of the author's history but on issues where politics often clouds fair and accurate historical judgement (eg, the Crusades, Suez, Israel/Palestine, and the world post-9/11) the book is scrupulously balanced and fair minded.

In any book that covers such a vast topic and period there is inevitable glossing over and simplification but, given the limitations of any "big picture" history book for non-academic readers, I recommend this and an interesting and worthwhile read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to the Islamic World, 23 April 2011
By 
Mr. Gtj Charmley "gerardtjcharmley" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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This book has an avowed purpose; in the introduction, author Tamim Ansary admits that one of the reasons for the book is the questions raised by 9/11. This made me a little wary of the book, wondering if the old 'Muslim as victim' routine was about to be played out. Or, equally off-putting, whether the alternative 'West=barbarians' narrative, concentrating almost morbidly on the Crusades was to be put. On reading the book, I was glad to discover that the answer is 'none of the above'. The book is a well-written and sympathetic, often amusing narrative history of the Islamic world, from the times of the Prophet Mohammed to the present day, tracing the growth and development of the core Islamic world. Of course, it is rather surface-level; the point is that it is an introduction, written by a Muslim brought up in Afghanistan. While the achievements of Islam are trumpeted, there is an honest analysis of its failings, especially in the field of technology. The description of Western colonialism's impact on Islam is fairer and more balanced than some of the statements which have emanated from even Westerners, especially the admission that much of this was due to internal difficulties, rather than expernal factors.

Of course, the book is not academic, and some of the statements are open to question; for example, is not one reason why Byzantium does not loom as large on the historical stage as its longevity would imply it ought due to the fact that as a state it ceased to exist? History is written by the winners, and Byzantium is one of history's losers. But the complaints are largely minor, and the book so well-written that they can be forgiven. Since this work does not ooze politics or grudge from every pore, it is a joy to read, and an excellent introduction to the Islamic world, in all its varied states. The early chapters sort out a lot of the confusion in other narratives, and the author is never overwhelmed by the scale of the subject, but writes as one with an affectionate interest in telling a story often untold in the West.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating counterweight to Anglocentric history, 11 Dec. 2010
By 
Alan Pavelin (Chislehurst, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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Subtitled "A History of the World through Islamic Eyes", this provides a fascinating counterweight to the Anglocentric view of history which we get from school and TV history series. Beginning with Mohammed and ending at 9/11 (with an "afterword" bringing it up-to-date and drawing conclusions), this is history as it would be understood in the countries of the Middle East and beyond. Events and persons central to our own history are touched upon only insofar as they are relevant to the author's aim. Thus, Hitler and Stalin are completely missing from the index, while Churchill gets just a single mention, in connection with the activities of British Petroleum in Iran in the 1920s. The Second World War is referred to as the "European Civil War". The author, an Afghan now living in the United States, is very fair in his assessments; the book is most certainly no Islamic tract, and he is unsparing in his criticism of where factions within Islam have gone wrong. His most trenchant criticisms seem to be of European imperialism, and some readers may be surprised at the extent of British involvement in the Middle East 100 years ago and more; did you know, for example, that Iraq is a totally artificial construct, created by Britain which also imposed one of its clients as king, whose older brother then had to be made king of another artificially-created state, Jordan?
The book is written in an informal, even jokey, style, so it is not your typical history textbook. It will go on my bookshelf next to a "History of the World", and when I want to look up some historical event I shall consult both volumes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, concise, balanced, readable and hugely informative. Read this book!, 28 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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Tamim Ansary has done a very difficult job very well. In writing a history of Islam for a western audience, he has had to tread a very fine line between making the history accessible to western audiences, yet not making it western-centric.

Destiny Disrupted seems to achieve this very well - Ansary deals with, but does not dwell on, the major points of contact that Europeans think of in relation to the 'Middle East' through history - the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades, the discovery of oil, Islamism. Yet Ansary also paints a rich and diverse picture of a history that I didn't really know existed, and through reading this book I have learnt an enormous amount about the myths, legends and culture of our Islamic neighbours.

Inevitably, with a book this concise written by a single source, many of the facts and anecdotes would need corroboration before you can rely on them totally, but it feels as if the overall narrative is well balanced. And it is clearly no small feat to manage the complex nature of the factions and sects and power bases that have grown up in the Islamic world.

I can't recommend this book enough - it fully deserves its five stars and should be required reading for all of us given the way in which radical Islamism is affecting our lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolerance begins with better education..., 16 Mar. 2012
By 
K. Jamison (Co. Down, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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My personal view is that we could all get along much better if we didn't resort to stereotyping and assumption.

While this is not an exhaustive and detailed tome on the History of Islam, it is presented in a format that can be easily digested by those interested in learning more as well as those trying to understand a different culture to that of the West.

The narrative style is pleasant but not dumbed down and this makes it a very interesting read.

I was aware of some of the history through TV programs with Jim Al Khalili and others. This helps to fill in the gaps and I try to educate others who make off-handed and inaccurate comments.

This book serves to remove the blinkers from the eyes of those who are self-opinionated on Islam.

We are all just human beings inhabiting the same planet - the extremists exist on all sides. We should not be coloured by the bitter lies of others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent! excellent! excellent!, 21 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
this is one of the very few works that has made me look at what i thought i knew through a different perspective. suddenly it all makes sense! tamim ansary should be congratulated for writing in such a fluid and readable way that doesn't appear to be preaching or academic. but it is a very well thought through view of the islamic world view, oblivious to the world according to the west, just as the west seems oblivious to islamic history.
very highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We need more of these kind of stories, 1 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
The first chapters of this book tell a familiar story, about the origins of the Islam, the development of the religion, the place Muhammed has in the story, the struggle between the first successors of the Prophet, and the civil wars that took place in the first decades AH. These familiar stories are well-known and Ansary tells nothing new about them in this book. Of course, he adds some nice details and appealing story twists, but nothing special. If you want to learn about this fascinating piece of history, you will find that this book has everything want. If you want to read another book telling basically the same story, but with more Shia (over against the Sunni) story lines, read "After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam" by Lesley Hazleton.

The chapters in "Destiny Disrupted" about Europe and the way that Islamic countries were overpowered by the Europeans - economically, socially and politically - are very interesting and belong to the strongest parts of the book. In these chapters Ansary shines in describing how the (policy) choices of the Europeans impacted the Islamic countries, and what the effects were on the people living in those countries and their culture. In these chapters, this book proofs its subtitle - "A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes" - to be absolutely true. Europeans can write about this, but not in the same way that a Muslim can, simply because Europeans were - and still are (as is one of the theses of this book) - the guys who knew how others had to behave and develop.

This book tries to be a history of the world, but it misses quite a number of historic developments, such as the Goths in Spain or the various Arabic tribes/clans in Nothern Africa. Basically, this book re-tells the history of Europe and the Middle East, and it does so in a very thorough and interesting way, and of course from a new perspective. But it's no history of the world.

"This book presents two mismatched world histories intersecting. Muslims were a crowd of people going somewhere. Europeans and their offspring were a crowd of people going somewhere. When the two crowds crossed paths, much bumping and crashing resulted, and the crashing is still going on." (p.353)

"Destiny Disrupted" is a book written by a Sunni. For example, when Ansary describes how the Prophet Muhammed dies, he tells that the Prophet died in the lap of his wife Aisha. But that's not how Shia people tell this story; according to them, the Prophet died in the lap of his son-in-law Ali. Moreover, the first four Caliphs are described as the 'Rightly Guided'. But, Shia believers don't except the first three Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman), according to them Ali (the fourth Caliph) is the rightful successor of Muhammed. If the author is a Sunni and tells history from a Sunni perspective, he should tell the reader so, but he did not do that. This is unfortunate, because it sows doubt about his background and thus about his portrayal of Shia history in the larger perspective of Islamic history.

In the introduction, the author mentions that he is not a professional historian, jurist or theologian, which might make the book not live up to professional historic quality standards. Indeed this is visible in the text, for example through sentences in the text in which the author writes in the I form and presents his own opinion and ideas, without substantive arguments or backing from sources. This might be a disadvantage, but I don't think it is. By telling the story this way, Ansary gives the reader the idea that he is speaking directly to you instead of through a book: in person-to-person discussion you have more liberty to present well-known common sense developments and correlations, because all the participants in the discussion know that they are true.

All in all, this book is a welcome addition to my personal library on European and world history, because it presents a perspective that is so often lacking from discussion, the perspective from the overpowered ones. We need more of these kind of stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast of fascinating stories., 13 Jan. 2013
By 
T. Vicary "Tim Vicary" (York, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
This is a great book. If you ever wanted to know how Muslims see the world, and how their idea of world history differs from that commonly taught in the west, then this book has the answer. Not only that, but it's delightfully written too.

Tamim Ansary grew up in Afghanistan, but now lives in the United States where, amongst other things, he has been part of a team writing textbooks to teach world history in American schools. So he is ideally placed to see the world from two different perspectives. He understands the way we in the West see world history - a long story leading to the triumph, as Francis Fukuyama once claimed, of liberal democracy - but he also understands how Muslims see it; a tale of human triumphs and disasters equally long, equally complicated, but in many important ways very different. The title - Destiny Disrupted - gives the first clue: human destiny, the end of history, was not supposed to be liberal democracy at all, but the perfect Muslim society. And for nearly a thousand years, as Mr Ansary explains, that's exactly the way the world seemed to be going. Within a few decades of Mohammed's death, all the important centres of civilisation outside China were ruled by Muslims - a situation that appeared to many Muslims to last, despite several serious disruptions, until the nineteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution turned the world upside down. Human Destiny had been disrupted, and appeared to many - especially today's jihadists - to be going in the wrong direction. Hence 9/11.

But most of this book is about the past, not the present. There are many fascinating details in this story, and Mr Ansary tells them very well indeed. It's easy to see how he has been successful in writing school textbooks. He has a light, easy style and the enviable skill of making the important points clear in a few short, pithy sentences. Wherever possible he tells a story, and there are lots of great stories to tell, most of them unfamiliar to me. How many westerners, even quite well-educated people, really know much about Genghis Khan or Tamerlaine, for example, and the terrible effect they had not only on the Muslim world, but also, as a result, on us? Where did the Ottoman Empire come from, and what was it like in its heyday? How did countries like Saudi Arabia and Iraq come into existence? What exactly is the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and what are the stories that made this happen? The answers are all here, in clear, simple, entertaining English.

And what exactly is it about Muslim scholarship that made it turn its back on what we call enlightenment and progress, and how is that different to what happened in the Christian church? Mr Ansary makes a good stab at answering that important question too.

If any of these questions intrigue you, I thoroughly recommend this book. And don't worry, it's very easy to read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant and eye-opening read., 24 Dec. 2010
By 
Caleb Williams (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Paperback)
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Generally, when we in the West think of history, we often think of things in the European / American perspective. The discovery of the US, the Roman Empire the Norman Conquest, the Renaissance etc. are all historical events that only really effect Western society, which has remained relatively separate from the "Middle World" (as labelled in this book) until the 20th Century when two very different civilisations met. Aside from all the history that we can recall, another civilisation was developing, growing and creating its own history.

Managing to condense roughly 2000 years of history into this one book and make it both informative and, at times exciting, is an epic achievement that should make Ansary proud. From the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad right up to 9/11 is a large and fruitful period to try and cover in one book and it is in no way covered in great detail. Some details are offered in only brief snippets, while others are delved into in more detail to offer the reader a greater perspective of the more important and influential events in the period covered.

One of the more interesting elements of the book was the history of Islam itself, from the rise of Muhammad to the formation of the Caliphate, to the splitting of Islam between Sunni & Shi'I and other developments in the religion itself. The overall book offers an eye-opening perspective on a relatively misunderstood and ignored part of history and a people that seem to have appeared out of the blue. A superb read and one I'd highly recommend.
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Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes
Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary (Paperback - 27 April 2010)
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