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From Babel to Dragomans Interpreting the Middle East Hardcover – 1 Apr 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc; First Edition edition (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195173368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195173369
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 3.6 x 16 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,832,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


his style is cool and un-emotive, and when he sets us right it is gently done.....such forthrightness in an academic is refreshing. (George Walden THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

The range, the achievement, is immense. He has the true scholar's ambition of pursuing truth and understanding. (David Pryce-Jones THE SUNDAY TIMES)

Professor Lewis's academic credentials are impeccable...... the collection of essays, articles, reviews, lectures and contributions to encyclopaedias gives a glimpse of his towering scholarship. (Michael Binyon THE TIMES)

Lewis has always combined an immense scope with a flair for the little detail. (James Buchan THE SPECTATOR)

Lewis is a historian who has thought deeply about what he is doing, and he shows how a historical perspective is not only useful for understanding the present clash of civilisations, it is essential..... The Middle East was, and is, the great meeting place of cultures, and Lewis excels in illustrating these points of contact. (Daniel Johnson THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)

the history pieces are nonetheless peppered with insights. (David Gardner THE FINANCIAL TIMES)

Our greatest authority on the world of Islam has followed his recent series of best-selling books with this gathering of fifty-one essays from the past fifty-one years. And an enjoyable, as well as an enlightening, collection it turns out to be. (Hazhir Tiemourian LITERARY REVIEW)

Lewis is always clear and eloquent. (Robert Irwin THE INDPENDENT)

All 51 essays are well-written and well-sourced; some of them are brilliant. (George Rosie THE SUNDAY HERALD)

he writes well and is a pleasure to read. (Oliver Miles THE GUARDIAN) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A collection of the most important essays on past and current history by the Western world's foremost Islamic scholar --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a series of very readable short papers by a world expert on the history of the Middle East, though there is a certain amount of overlap or repetition in them. They are divided into three parts: "Past History" (some 250 pages), "Current History" (about 200 pages), and a part about History as a subject and about Islamic historiography (about 70 pages). One or two of the papers in the first part are perhaps rather specialized for the general reader. Others are summaries of histories that will not provide much new information to the general public (e.g. on the emergence of Modern Israel). Newspaper readers will have formed some idea of the differences between the Sunni and the Shi'ites; the article on the latter gives an exceptionally good account of them. Some chapters may give information even to people who are rather well informed about the Middle East: I, for instance, found the excellent chapter on Pan-Arabism telling me many things I did not know, among them that, although Egyptians speak Arabic, Pan-Arabists did not initially consider Egypt an Arab country, nor that, until the time of Nasser, did the Egyptians themselves describe themselves as Arabs. And how many of even assiduous newspaper readers know anything of the 19th century history of Lebanon, sketched out here in a short article?

The last section has a fascinating paper showing how originally `Turkey' was a western term: the Ottomans used the word `Turk' only as a word denoting an ignorant peasant (and in the West, too, it frequently carried the connotation of 'barbarian'), but not to identify the nature of their empire or of its ruling ethnic group. Here the Ottomans followed the traditions of Islamic history which never concerned itself with national or ethnic differences.
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By A Customer on 7 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
A must read book for the majority of the 'Western minds' who quite clearly lack perspective on the current events and dramas which have unfolded in the Western world during the past 4 years.
This should be a compulsory read for all British and American (indeed all Western) individuals who aspire to positions of power and wish to serve for the best interests of their people.
The centuries old struggle between Christianity and Islam is once again beginning to gain prominence. The final outcome of this struggle will almost certainly not be known by anyone living today. What is certain is that realistically, the outcome cannot and will not be shaped by any department or state or coalition, whether it is by force or by other means. The task is simply too complex and vast and the state of flux too fluid........One can simply only watch.......
Today's tragedies become tomorrow's myths which provide more ammunition for those who respect and draw strength from history. There is only one clear leader in drawing strength from history.
Bernard Lewis' book unveils this overall mood in a splendid account of the history between these two 'civilisations'. It is much simpler to understand the world today once the book has been read. It helps to smash the Western paradigm which will only then allow you to begin to appreciate how many other people view the world in which we live.
One can only hope that for goodness sake 'let us have respect for all in this world'.
A must, must read book.
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Format: Hardcover
Bernard Lewis is certainly one of the most articulate and prolific authorities on the subject of Islam and the Middle East.
In this compendium of essays and speeches on the topic covering the last 60 years, Lewis makes a palpable contribution to the subject and gives us some much needed answers.

Important points explain the Muslim prohibition on accepting the rule of non-Muslims, especially in lands that were ever under Islamic rule. This is illustrated by the Islamic faith's division of the world into the realms of Dar el Islam (House of Islam) and Dar el Harb (House of War) applied to any nation that is not under Islamic rule.
According to Islam, for misbelievers (non Muslims) to rule over true believers (Muslims) is evil and blasphemous and leads to the corruption of religion and morality or even the abrogation of Allah's law.
This may go some way to explaining the conflicts around the world where Muslims are under the governance of non-Muslim majorities such as Indian Kashmir, Serbian Kosovo, Israel and when it had a Christian majority-Lebanon.
It also may explain why Muslims in Western and Central Europe demand a high degree of legal protection which those countries no longer give to Christianity and have never given to Jews. Or even demanding Sharia law in parts of Europe, and for example harassing and attacking non-Islamic women who they see as being dressed immodestly.

Lewis' study of propaganda in the pre-modern Middle East may go some way to explain how Islamic propaganda (under tutelage during the 20th century of Fascism, Nazism and Communism) developed against Israel and Jews.
He studies monarchy in the Middle East pointing out the important point that republics and democracy are not synonymous at all.
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