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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light but fair
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...
Published on 13 Dec 2010 by Pardo

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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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17 of 18 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 (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thorough and thoroughly interesting, 23 Dec 2010
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Peter R (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye-Opener, 5 Mar 2011
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Amazon Customer (Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted (Paperback)
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Like so many people, I often happily expounded views about the Muslim religion, but what I actually knew about Islam could have been written on the back of a postcard. Reading this wonderful book made me feel ashamed of my ignorance and aware of just how imbalanced and patchy our perception of world history is.

A Muslim by birth and a secularist by inclination, Tamim Ansary writes respectfully about Islam, but maintains a healthy scepticism. The result is what appeared to be a fair and balanced overview of Islam, from the birth of the Prophet to the present day - a far cry from the uncompromising texts of the Islamists or militant atheists like Richard Dawkins.

This could have been a very dry, dull book, but Ansary's chatty narative style and ability to make sense of complex ideas and events has produced a compelling read. If you've ever wondered what the differences between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims are, or want to know why Islam spread so quickly, this book will make it abundantly clear.

This fascinating book should be required reading for all Western politicians and it might also help to convince Islamophobes that there are two sides to the story.
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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 (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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History told by a master storyteller, 28 Feb 2010
By 
Elizabeth Taylor (France) - See all my reviews
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This is not a history book nor is it a novel and yet it reads much like a story, told in the ancient tradition of storytelling, and I could easily imagine our author talking aloud to a group. It's a tale lovingly told, a tale of passions, the tale of world history from a non-Western perspective. Like the storytellers of old, the author engages us, cajoles us, throws in little tit-bits of gossip but most of all informs the un-informed. So, be warned history buffs, although there is an extensive bibliography this is a one man's perspective of certain events he has chosen to include and he makes no excuse for that. The title also makes clear that this is a religious tale, so be prepared for explanations of Islam the religion and Islam the way of life, its tenants and rules, as well the details of what sometimes seemed to me obscure differences of opinion. There are also mystics and universities of learning and through the tales one learns their debut to our Classical world and their gift in return, to western civilization which allowed the Enlightment and Renaissance to flourish. Reading this I felt that the tragedy of the currently popular ''clash of civilizations'' is that sailing back and forth on the sea of time we are completely intertwined; learning, knowledge and culture seeping back and forth between, so ultimatey its a re-telling of bits of our culture that we seemed to have rubbed out of the history books.

I thoroughly enjoyed, this unusual and personal telling of history as a story, its engaging, interesting and amusing - the author is just that a author not a historian, so he can give his view and get away with it. It also allows him to be emotional and passionate in highlighting the tragedy of the common man, women and child living in what we now call the Middle east, their failed aspirations and somewhat hidden tale. Be prepared it is also a political tale as despite the spices and characters on the way it's a tale of corruption and missed opportunities of golden ages and depths of despair. And it seemed to me that one of the main reasons for writing this book was for our author - an Afghan- to help the west understand the roots of those tears. Just like a good movie our storyteller knows how to tell a tale and at the end I felt enlightened, I learnt things I didn't know, I heard interesting stories and would recommend this as a enjoyable way to understand our shared past and what should be, if we can talk and argue openly about such stories our shared future.
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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 (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to the history of Islam, 15 Sep 2011
By 
kingg (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted (Paperback)
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A truly superb and immensely readable introduction to the history of Islam. The author's writing style is relaxed and occasionally humorous, which makes it a joy to read and easy to take in the wealth of information and views expressed in the text. This is an example of my favourite kind of book - informative and easy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Take on History and Islam, 30 Jun 2011
By 
J. Dawson (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted (Paperback)
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I chose this book for my father, who loves history and has a particular interest in Islamic culture. He reports that it was truly an eye opening book. Although there is nothing new in terms of the historical events covered, the author's choice to depict these events from an Islamic perspective was entirely new, at least for my father. In these days when Islamophobia is rife and the Middle East is so often misunderstood, this book is a refreshing and enlightening read. For those with a particular interest in the history of the Middle East and/or the state of Islam - past and present - it is a must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to the Islamic World, 23 April 2011
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Mr. Gtj Charmley "gerardtjcharmley" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destiny Disrupted (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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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 (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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Destiny Disrupted
Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary (Paperback - 6 May 2010)
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