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Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms Paperback – 20 Nov 2014
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|Paperback, 20 Nov 2014||
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About the Author
Gerard Russell is a former United Nations and British diplomat. During his time with the British foreign service, which took him to Cairo, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Jeddah and Kabul, he was described as 'the foremost expert on the Islamic world in his generation.' In 2009 he moved to the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and is now working in a strategic communications consultancy in London. He is fluent in both Arabic and Farsi.
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In a multipolar world with a secular religiously indifferent but tolerant West, a militant ethnic Judaism and an increasingly retrograde intolerant Islam , each proclaiming its civilisational superiority and exceptional historical role, while these vanishing religious minorities face forced conversion or slaughter,dispersal outside their homeland and worse still marriage outside their communities.They could soon turn into museum curiosities ,studied by scholars fascinated by their esoteric origins and their centuries old resilience.
The survival of these minorities demonstrates once again the powerful hold of cultural and religious traditions as shapers of self identity, intermarriage as the means of survival in a hostile environment and esotericism as a strategy for preserving religious orthodoxy but above all the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Perhaps the march of History is towards increasing uniformity and homogenisation , an undoubted impoverishment in human affairs but a simplified solution to the problems of uncertain or multiple allegiances in the hegemonic nations of the modern world.There are many timely lessons to be garnered from this well researched and non patronising sympathetic text.
I did not really find it that well written either - perhaps a feature of not being clearly in one strand of writing.
Yet - it is fascinating and, like any good piece of non-fiction, makes on think - and makes one think for a long term.
That thinking for me proved rather depressing.
The book is an extremely rewarding read. Following Russell's footsteps the reader is able to reflect on how faith confers belonging and identity. Some of the believers we meet are remarkable witnesses to their religions. Russell is an insightful author and by exploring the diversity of belief systems, his book is an education in the common humanity we all share.
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The book is reasonably well written -- it isn't polished, but that adds to its charm as...Read more