With most of Western political opinion swallowed up in hypocrisy and self-deluding denial about the real threat of Islam, it is a great pity that Spencer should have missed an opportunity and produced this shoddy piece of dishonest and selective writing.
Others have written at length on this site about its obvious weaknesses, so I shall confine myself to what has not yet been said.
Spencer rants about the fanatical religious intolerance of the Muslims whilst sharing and indeed advocating the fanatical religious intolerance of his own weird brand of Christianity. A major part of his book is to attempt to compare favourably one set of supernatural nonsense to another. So the whole book undermines itself. A consequence of this bizarre situation is that he often finds himself in agreement [sic] with the fanatics he rightly denounces: thus, he entirely passes over the major issue of Islamic hate crimes and murder against gay people because he shares this prejudice himself (being, for example, in favour of the recent fascist homophobic legislation in N Carolina and Mississippi ). So we have a long chapter on women's oppression by the mullahs, and a couple of misleading and ambiguous sentences on the whole realm of anti-gay persecution.
I'm prepared to admit that I know much less about Islam than Spencer but (having learnt some Arabic and having taught in the Muslim world for over a decade) I do know something; enough to detect serious errors in Spencer's knowledge.
Let's hope a real and honest intellectual comes along and writes a proper expose of ALL three vile monotheistic systems! Having said all that, much that Spencer does say to the extreme detriment of Islam is in fact true. It is cruel, war-mongering, hate-driven, fanatical, anti-intellectual etc
I am a little stunned at how he has managed to twist and yes even deceive his readers. He seems to have worked every negative component in Islam and exagerated them, and dragged the worst out of it. I suppose islamaphobes and Islam haters will revel in this fanatical rubbish. I thought authors were literate peace lovers, beleived in educating the masses. This book breeds only hate and contempt. if the world thought like him we are in trouble. He has done eduation a disfavour. I suppose Hitler had his spin doctors write nasty things about Jews in the 1930's, Robert Spencer is of similar calibre.
This is racism and bigotry, pure and simple. The book is filled with distortions and lies. Muslims are filled with hate, Muslims are a death cult, Muslims are barbaric, Muslim religion is inherently violent.....
You know, Spencer hopes that a neutral person will pick up this book and it will permeate the with the fear of Muslims and Islam and the "global jihad". But I think even someone who doesn't really know a lot about Islam and Muslims will be able to detect the apparent propaganda and hate mongering in this book disguised as serious criticism. Sometimes it's not even disguised. He start the book saying the prophet of Islam was a prophet of war. Even if that is factually accurate, which it isn't, then a sincere person must realize that 1.8 billion people do not love and respect a violent monster that Spencer says he was. The sincere reader can assume, without factual knowledge, that the Muslims must believe something else. It is a legitimate argument to say that they believe incorrect facts about the prophet. But Spencer wants everyone to accept that all the Muslims follow some war mongering murdering vile creature. It is this underlying idea that makes his bigoted intent clear and transparent.
Much as the title suggests, this book is not a considered, intellectual discussion. Rather, it appears to be a misguided understanding which seeks to project the author's own prejudiced perspectives onto the community under study.
I have come across this books in a book store and read quite a part of it just out of curiosity. Over all this is a very nice book if you wish to have a nice background for your already fixed idea: "Islam is bad". It will definetly earn you a nice place in Blogs and Forum discussions. But for a student of politics, philosophy or Religion this book is nothing but a joke. It frequently refers to long abandoned islamic sources and Hadis (hadiths)(sayings attributed to Prop. Muhammed) which are regarded as made up. Yes they are present in the Islamic literature but the same islamic literature eliminated them long ago. Many quotes from Quran are out of context and this definitely is an indicator of a bad intention if not ignorance.
And the Attempt to white wash the Crusades and claim that they were acts of defense is not even funny. Crossing all the way from Europe to seize Jerusalem and pillaging the Christian city of Constantinople on the way is a defensive action... Wow!
Basicly perfect for a Blog bigot. Bad for anyone who really wants to learny anything.
I have a deep understanding of the crusades, much more than author, Robert Spencer can claim to have. I am currently studying medieval history at an advanced level so have learnt quite a bit about the crusades.
His argument for the crusades being justified is deeply ignorant and seem to appeal to the armchair critic. The crusades were NOT "in line with the times" and certainly not in line with the laws of conduct in battle at the time. This book has got me so angry because Spencer speaks of topics he clearly doesn't understand and I have spent years studying about. It amazes me how many people are blinded by hate and bias and swallow this rubbish.
I could write a dissertation critiqing the entire book and its contents, but I shall point out two particularly jarring false claims as this is meant to be short and the crusades are my specialty. I hope by pointing out these flaws you start critiquing the rest of the book as well instead of taking it all as fact.
Firstly, the claim the crusades were neccessary to protect christian lands. False. The crusades were started due to a plea for help from the orthodox byzantine church to help them against the seljuk turks. The only direct action taken against the turks was the siege of antioch. After that crusader eyes turned to jerusalem which was in the hands of the the Egyptian empire who were not a direct threat to christian land. The seljuks remained neighbours of constantinople and would eventually capture it under the name of the ottomans. All the time the seljuk turks remained north of antioch biding their time and helping their egyptian comrades in a common cause. The crusaders attacks on both antioch AND Jerusalem in the first crusade showed greed and stupidity. It made the alliance between the seljuks and the mamluks impenetrable. One of the chief reasons for the crusades failing in my eyes was the fact the crusaders had made bitter enemies of both the seljuks and the mamluks right from the first crusade.
Secondly, the claim that the crusaders were in line with military policy at the time. They murdered, raped and pillaged their way to jerusalem. None of these were policies of muslim armies. I read a previous review that muslims preferred to live under the crusaders than muslim rulers. This is again, in my opinion, untrue. In fact, the jews living in muslim cities pledged to support muslim defenders against the crusaders such was their reputation as occupiers. In fact at one siege(siege of Maarat)the victorious crusaders resorted to cannibalism, feeding upon the dead bodies of enemy soldiers and children. In fact one of their own chroniclers at the event wrote of the scene before him with joy, "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled." They sacked THE greatest city (constantinople) in christianity above probably even Rome. They destroyed great Greek, Roman and Christian art, slaughtered fellow christians and reduced the city to rubble. Deeply ironic considering that the same city sent out a plea for help against the turks starting the crusades. Little did they know that just over a century later it would be the crusaders who would bring their city to its knees and not the seljuks. A quote I learnt spoken by a byzantine chronicler after the sack of constantinople indicates his wish that it was the seljuks who conquered constantinople as they would have let its people live.
I can come up with many more reasons why Spencers arguments are baseless but this is meant to be a review. So I end it by saying this. If you truly want to learn about Islam you wouldn't make the same mistake I did in picking up this book. I went into the book with caution and neutrality and found myself helped by my slant. After reading this book I can't help feeling that the author recognised a certain formula.
Politically incorrect + Islam = $$$$$$$$
That has to be the answer because there was certainly not a lot of educated thought and judgement that went into writing this book.
As far as I'm concerned this belongs in the fiction section!
The way this guy writes you'd think Christians had never been in any wars! Or ever massacred or killed anyone! I picked this up in the library out of curiosity and after reading it's fairly obvious Robert Spencer makes his money from the "politically incorrect" view of Islam for which there is a some appetite in the West today, most of it stemming from 9/11. It would be silly to think this is an objective piece of work on one of the worlds largest religions, it's more an emotional reaction to recent current affairs and a savvy way to make money from people who are afraid of Islam and scary brown people with rucksacks on planes, trains and buses. Don't waste your money buying it, if anything get it from the library like I did.