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on 21 July 2017
Very interesting view of world history from a completely different perspective. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, the struggles in the middle east or who would like to learn a little more about Islam objectively. The book is really well written, I was worried it was going to be heavy going, but it was far from that. It was easy to follow, humorous in places and placed key event in context of western history when appropriate. Excellent read!
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on 28 December 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 26 March 2017
I've only read a few chapters but I can say that this book has already demystified many preconceptions I have held throughout the years about my own religion. The author seems to have kept in mind that there may follow a wider readership, as it seems as though many terms and concepts have been briefly but well explained, with non-Muslim readers in mind. Very well written, especially for your average reader and a good start for those seeking to view things through non-Western lens, and of course to understand the whole West verus Middle East, thing.
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on 13 July 2017
This book is a gem. Describing the fascinating history of Islam from its conception up to the modern 'troubles' in the middle east. If you have any interest in history or just want more information regarding the current tension between western and eastern ideas, this is for you. From the dessert intrigue and power struggles which formed Islam to the political framework which spawned fundamentalism today, this book will keep you interested from beginning to end.
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 26 June 2017
A great read, much more informative than I expected. An easy to read historical account from the perspective of a region that is often overlooked and misunderstood.
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VINE VOICEon 11 December 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2012
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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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on 1 March 2014
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 May 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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, which is a pretty cheeky attempt - but it succeeds in many ways, especially for those with an interest and those who don't want any heavy going academic type of read but want it basically told as a Tale of sorts in layman terms.

This is also its downfall in many ways, there are some historical inaccuracies, and it's obviously biased towards the authors thoughts, belief and knowledge and someone looking for a more in depth historical account should look elsewhere.

All in all, worth reading for those who have an interest or are curious about the religion of Islam and its history.
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