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Customer Review

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive historical perspective of Middle East conflict, 24 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World (Paperback)
In this book, Karen Armstrong juxtaposes accounts of the historical and current conflicts in the Middle East, providing convincing arguments that today's troubles, largely attributed to Islam fundamentalism, are in fact the continuation of a chain of events triggered by Pope Urban's first crusade, and the attempts of Western Europe and its church at that time to establish themselves after the dark ages.
Ms. Armstrong stresses the importance of "triple vision", i.e. the ability to view the conflict from the perspective of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian communities. It is in this spirit that the book should be read. In the course of the book, she shows understanding for each perspective. However, her sympathy appears to be more with the Islamic people in this account, than with the other two. This may be due to the fact that more explanation of the Islamic perspective is generally required, as this group is typically least familiar to the Western reader, and has been misrepresented or even demonized in the Western media.
Ms. Armstrong alternates between historical and modern times chapter by chapter. This technique is effective in driving home her arguments, but nonetheless it can sometimes feel a little too forced. The book is worth rereading in order to clearly sequence the events for oneself.
I found it immensely refreshing to read such a well-researched book, which tackles the discussion of the Middle East conflict from a broader historical perspective, starting with Abraham and ending with the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Unlike many books available currently, this is a scholarly work, free of sensationalism. On a general note, as with any historical account, one can never forget while reading the book, that the events chosen for inclusion in the account are chosen at the writer's discretion and are also commented by her. With such an emotive and important subject, I think that it is essential to read several books on the topic to attain ones own "triple vision".
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