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For many centuries, Islam was the world's greatest, most open, most enlightened, most creative, most powerful civilisation. And then everything changed, as the previously despised West won victory after victory, first on the battlefield and in the marketplace, then in almost every aspect of public and even private life. Bernard Lewis examines the anguished reaction of the Islamic world as it tried to understand why things had changed, and he provides a fascinating portrait of a culture in turmoil. Some Middle Easterners asked not 'who did this to us?' but 'where did we go wrong?'; while others fastened blame on a series of scapegoats, both internal and external - and the results are very much with us today.
Inevitably, the timing of this book's publication in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 gives it an additional degree of relevance and piquancy, but it would be a mistake to assume that Bernard Lewis is placing the perceived current conflict between the Middle East and the West at the centre of his argument. Rather, it examines and attempts to explain the apparent decline of the Muslim world over the last millennium, from its scientific and artistic ascendancy during Europe's Dark Ages to the fragmented and unstable assortment of largely militant nations and states that exists at the beginning of the 21st century, and the internal and collateral conflicts which this dissolution has brought about. It is in the nature of empires to decline and recorded history is full of examples of once great hegemonies rendered powerless despite all efforts to retain coherence, so in a way the question 'what went wrong?' is redundant - it's just what happens. Professor Lewis's book accepts this as a premise, and explores the various solutions that have been and continue to be proposed and tried out in the Middle East. Assuming that there is an answer to the question in the title (not necessarily in itself a valid assumption), leaders of all flavours in the Middle East have suggested measures to 'put it right'. All too often, these measures tend to polarize the secular and the sacred, and this division adds to rather than heals the deep-seated rifts which have largely caused the situation in the first place. All the while, looking outward, the only view from the Islamic world has been the rise of an increasingly distant and disinterested West, its only contact seeming to be through aggressive trade practices and cynical militaristic interference. The blame and bitterness born of this combination of factors dominates the Middle East, both internally and in its international relations, shaping its politics today. Learning the lessons of tolerance and co-operation that this intelligent and thoughtful book espouses can only increase the potential for a better dialogue. (Kirkus UK)
ISBN: 9780753816752 ISBN-10: 075381675X Audience:
Number Of Pages: 208 Published: 7th November 2002 Publisher: Orion Publishing Co Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.9
Weight (kg): 0.17
Edition Number: 1