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We in the west share a common narrative of world history. But our story largely omits a whole civilization whose citizens shared an entirely different narrative for a thousand years.

In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary tells the rich story of world history as the Islamic world saw it, from the time of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. He clarifies why our civilizations grew up oblivious to each other, what happened when they intersected, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europea place it long perceived as primitive and disorganizedhad somehow hijacked destiny.

Topics: Islam, The Middle East, Crusades, Politics, Philosophers, Informative, Ottoman Empire, Medieval Period, and Middle East

Published: PublicAffairs on Apr 28, 2009
ISBN: 9780786741502
List price: $16.99
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An insightful and cleverly written history of Islamic religious and societal narratives - how Islamic cultures, writers, and peoples saw the unfolding of history. The author is respectful, intelligent, and funny, handling the contentious subject matter with verve and clarity. Highly recommended for anyone interested in broadening their views of Muslim and Islamic issues in the world today by studying a complex and fascinating history.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The western propaganda machine demonizes the Middle East for self-interests, and the rebel in me, enjoys reading the other side of the story. Essentially the book covers the history of the Middle East from Mesopotamia to 9/11. The author's objective is to write a history of what Muslims think and what has motivated them throughout history. This Afghan-American author was a text book editor and noticed the lack of coverage of the Middle East in Western textbooks. His exposure to history as a "Muslim Afghanistan" was much different, so he eventually wrote this book from a non-western and non-academic perspective.

The first thing that impressed me was history starts with Mesopotamia. For some reason, most books start Middle Eastern history with the birth of Islam. The Middle East was a mosh pit of different ethnic groups and the avoidance is understandable considering the complications. But the author does a wonderful job explaining all these migrations and gives them personality and attitude. This makes them easy to remember and enjoyable to read. For example the author states the “Assyrians acquired a nasty reputation in history as merciless tyrants”; the Chaldeans are those “who rebuilt Babylon and won lustrous place in history”; the Sassanid’s “erased the last traces of Hellenic influence”. Although some may balk at this assessment, one gets a sense of this 4000 year period in only thirty pages.

The second thing I liked about the book was this idea of telling history as a story. Most history books approach the subject as if it were a stack of facts. Mr. Ansary reminds us that history is a story with peaks and valleys. He does this by integrating social, political, military and biographical elements around a story arc. Granted details are missing and the author is biased, but after reading this book, one will have an outline of the Middle Eastern “story”. At least one version of it.

Although I enjoyed the book, there were wrenches in the obvious places. The book had a tendency to reference the West in a negative light. It's helpful to compare differences to other countries, but the constant digs at the West became annoying. Sometimes it was subtle, but I found myself rolling my eyes many times.

Even sub-Saharan Africa had Muslim converts now. Only Cathay and darkest Europe remained fully outside the realm. It seemed only a matter of time before Islam fulfilled its destiny and bathed even those regions with light. [P129]
The book is obviously biased toward the Islamic perspective, but it scapegoats thornier issues such as misogyny, slavery and violence. For me, this was the biggest problem with the book. When these issues came up, the book justified the behavior by point to similar examples in other civilizations. This reminded me of children, who justify their bad behavior by pointing out the bad deeds of others. As the quotes below show, the author wasn't always creative either.

Clearly, these women were not shut out of public life, public recognition, and public consequence. The practice of relegating women to an unseen private realm derived, it seems, from Byzantine and Sassanid practices. [P127]

Anxiety about change and a longing for stability tend to deepen traditional and familiar patterns of society. In the Muslim world, these included patriarchal patterns inherent not just in Arabic tribal life but also in pre-Islamic Byzantine and Sassanid societies. [P128]
The book has a tendency to sugar-coat history to fit its agenda. Middle Eastern history is terribly complicated and many books get bogged down with religion and border changes. The book makes this easier by only highlighting major turning points and only including a few personalities. It's also written on a high-school reading level, so it’s approachable for most readers. I didn't always agree, but the author ideas were worth my time.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Destiny Disrupted is not an academic history of the Islamic culture through the ages and Tamim Ansary doesn’t pretend to be to be Islamic Scholar. What Destiny Disrupted is, is a very readable collection of the core stories that make up the Islamic history from its earliest beginnings to right through September 11 attack and the subsequent wars. A narrative of world history that is so different from our own, but as complex and intricate as anything the west as has to offer. Any survey of world history would be incomplete without the Islamic perspective, and Ansary is able to give the Muslim people a context and explains the reasoning behind the shape of their culture without becoming distant and cold to the subject matter demanded from a scholarly work. What Ansary argues isn’t the classic ‘clash of cultures’ that has been taught in the West dating back to the crusades, in fact for much of world history the west had so little to do with the middle world it would be hard to describe much of anything besides the 1st crusade and the current wars as a clash (at least from a wider view of World History). Instead Ansary presents a rather compelling thesis that Islamic history and Western history are two very different world histories trajectories that have only recently collided and are trying to work themselves out. Ansary doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable implications of his thesis: "The argument between Christian and Muslim 'fundamentalists' comes down to: Is there only one God or is Jesus Christ our savior? Again, that's not a point-counterpoint; that's two people talking to themselves in separate rooms." The real disappoint with this book is that once he builds his argument to a final crescendo, he leaves it there with no satisfactory answer. An impossible task I realize and something that is going to have to play itself out on a larger stage.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Mir Ansary's lighthearted prose and lively style make enjoyable reading of this complex topic. Through this alternate perspective not only do we gain an understanding that is critical to our comprehension of current events, but we also gain insight on how events were interpreted by people of that time. Ansary's evenhanded sympathy to all sides and his clear, concise depiction of events and their importance make this book invaluable to historical understanding.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
While the book is useful for a better understanding of how history looks from the perspective of the Muslim world, Ansary repeatedly demonstrates a shallow understanding of Christianity.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A chatty and informative survey that had me hooked when Ansary first talked about meeting Arnold Toynbee as a boy and then flashes forward to 2000 and to when he was working on a world history textbook for kids in high school which had little to say about the Islamic world. At the time Ansary was prepared to conclude that maybe he was just a bit self-involved about wanting to include more of what was after all his own heritage; then 9/11 happened. To a certain degree this book is the result, as Ansary tries to explain the narrative paradigms that every Muslim takes for granted, before considering how the hardwired imperative to build a better self-contained society in the image of the first Muslim community tended to blind the Islamic world to the sweeping social changes coming out of the West, until these communities were unable to respond as equals.This is all done with very little anger and with few illusions about the pain that mutual adaption will involve; Ansary displays little doubt about being justified in calling out the non-Muslin world for its ignorance, while at the same time observing that it's elements of the Islamic world who are going to have to rise above their self-contained understanding and embrace the wider reality, at least if they want to stop being ineffectual. The main exception is the blunt use of the term "holocaust" to describe the disaster that the Mongol conquest inflicted on the Islamic world.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It is very readable, and covers history in a manner which I enjoy, where the ideas of the time are treated along with the events. Although I was aware of a lot of the events, the book provides a cohesive view in which Europeans were not the central actors, but more a a blip on the edge until the last couple of centuries.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I cannot think of another book that I have ever read that has taught me as much about the world we live in. When we view objects with both eyes we can see them with more depth and dimensions. In the same manner Tamim Ansary's book presents another vantage point from which to view and examine world history and our understanding of it grows exponentially. As the title says, this is not a history of the Islamic World; it is a history of the entire world, as seem through the eyes of a Muslim. The causes and effects of such events as the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Great Plague, the Industrial Revolution and the Colonial Age are presented in a stark contrast to what we were taught in Middle School.I cannot recommend this book highly enough. In these turbulent times, it behooves us to be able to understand what drives the thoughts and deeds of those many of us have chosen to consider our enemies.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
What it says on the cover; puts a very different spin on narratives of rise and decline. Given the scope, it was a gallop, but I liked the emphasis on the ways in which Muslim understandings of the founding narratives affected how subsequent generations thought about politics, religion, and the divide or lack thereof between.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
For the non-Arab trying to understand the history of the Middle East I cannot think of a better place to start! The book itself is about 350 pages of actual reading (about 40 pages of the book are notes, bibliography, acknowledgements and index making the book 390 pages). It isn't exactly short but the history in it really is in condensed form. He covers the pre-Islamic Middle World, as he calls it, very briefly and then jumps right into the beginnings of Islam. Even though this text is highly condensed the author manages to give great details about very key figure and events. It's enough to give a reader a very sturdy framework upon which they can continue to build knowledge and fill in information later. Furthermore, he doesn't tell it as dry historical facts but gives a life to the narrative he's telling adding context to everything. He captures the very essensce of what people were feeling and thinking and how they percieved themselves and others. This is something that is often lacking in historical works. Most texts focus heavily on facts alone but fail to give full context in which to place the facts.As a non-Arab Muslim I have done a lot of reading into historical works and trying to place events and people into timelines and places. But this was not the narrative I grew up with. In fact, most of these events and people were never even mentioned in any of the textbooks I ever read. If you received a western education chances are this will be true for you too. What's great about Ansary's approach is that he tells it in an easy to understand way relating occasionally to western events and times that help the reader place what they are reading. I would say this could easily be considered likened to an idiot's guide to the history of the Middle East.If your already familiar with Middle Eastern history (maybe you've read books like A Concise History of the Middle East or something along those lines) you'll still get a lot out of this book and if you know nothing about Middle Eastern history this book will certainly give you a strong foundation.Ansary says in his introduction that "Destiny Disrupted is neither a textbook nor a scholarly thesis. It's more like what I'd tell you if we met in a coffeehouse..." He refers to this work as the story arc of Middle Eastern/Islamic history and that's very much what it is. His writing is fun and accessible. It is a very enjoyable read. He makes some aspects of Islamic history and culture very easy to understand. For example the Sunni and Shi'a split which is something many people do not fully understand. Not only does he explain it in easy to understand terms but he helps fill in what else is happening to the key figures and the thoughts of the ummah at the time. He breaks down understanding things like the main difference between major Shia sects as well as how things like Wahabism came into being.He brings the story right up into the present day ending with an afterword of a post 9/11 world. Anyone familiar with Middle Eastern drama films will find a similarity in the ending of the book as being an unresolved abrupt end. Well... I guess that's to be expected since the Islamic world and Islam in general are in a major state of flux and change right now. Nobody can say where things are going right now for sure but after reading this at least we can understand a little better how we got to where we currently are.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is an important work to consider for an understanding of Islamist prejudices. As Ansary himself explains, he is propagandizing American textbook publishers to promote his biased view of Islamic history and he seeks to evangelize among impressionable and ignorant youth.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
[Destiny Disrupted : A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes] by Tamim Ansary (c2009, 371 pages, finished March 16, 2010)*I read this as a break while reading [Infinite Jest], as my light book. It is actually light; it’s also very readable and entertaining. Ansary writes in the introduction, “Destiny Disrupted is neither a textbook nor a scholarly thesis. It’s more like what I’d tell you if we met in a coffeehouse and you said, ‘What’s all this about a parallel world history?’”This is a history of the world from a “Middle World”, or Islamic perspective. Europe, including Rome, becomes peripheral – although it is granted its own chapter (17 pages, covering 1291 -1600). China gets an occasional mention. It’s Anasary’s response to world histories that essentially disregard the region as peripheral even though it’s huge and, over most of history, excluding far-off China, constituted the center of the civilized world. The scale is very broad, covering all recorded history in about 350 pages. Anansary accomplishes this with sweeping summaries leading the many quotable comments. This was a fun book, filled with fascinating information and people I had not heard of before, and with many interesting interpretations. *This "review" was written in April 3, 2010 - and posted here 2.5 years laterread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book is a treasure: a mind-opening look at history from an Islamic viewpoint that's also an engrossing read. I have read a lot of history, including a good deal on various Islamic cultures. Mr. Ansary's book, however, taught me more about the Islamic world and about its interface with our own culture than anything else I have read.The author begins by telling us that his book is neither a thesis nor a scholarly work, and it is neither of these. Instead, it provides a broad overview of world history from an Islamic point of view -- structurally similar to the sort of world history students read in American colleges, but very different in its conclusions! Many of the events described will be familiar to readers of the standard "Western Civ" text. But they look very different in the perspective that Mr. Ansary presents. That difference goes all the way from the beginning of Islam to the current day, challenging underlying assumptions right and left, and shifting the cast of characters so that bit players in the Western narrative become central figures, while much of Western history moves to the sidelines.For me, this is a very valuable experience: I learned a great deal, and I think I may understand current-day Islamic attitudes better than I did. Don't read this book if you are looking for a detailed and documented history of the Islamic world; as Mr. Ansary says, this is not a scholarly work. It is, however, a very wise and valuable one -- do read it if you want to know more about the world you live in.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
something specialread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

An insightful and cleverly written history of Islamic religious and societal narratives - how Islamic cultures, writers, and peoples saw the unfolding of history. The author is respectful, intelligent, and funny, handling the contentious subject matter with verve and clarity. Highly recommended for anyone interested in broadening their views of Muslim and Islamic issues in the world today by studying a complex and fascinating history.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The western propaganda machine demonizes the Middle East for self-interests, and the rebel in me, enjoys reading the other side of the story. Essentially the book covers the history of the Middle East from Mesopotamia to 9/11. The author's objective is to write a history of what Muslims think and what has motivated them throughout history. This Afghan-American author was a text book editor and noticed the lack of coverage of the Middle East in Western textbooks. His exposure to history as a "Muslim Afghanistan" was much different, so he eventually wrote this book from a non-western and non-academic perspective.

The first thing that impressed me was history starts with Mesopotamia. For some reason, most books start Middle Eastern history with the birth of Islam. The Middle East was a mosh pit of different ethnic groups and the avoidance is understandable considering the complications. But the author does a wonderful job explaining all these migrations and gives them personality and attitude. This makes them easy to remember and enjoyable to read. For example the author states the “Assyrians acquired a nasty reputation in history as merciless tyrants”; the Chaldeans are those “who rebuilt Babylon and won lustrous place in history”; the Sassanid’s “erased the last traces of Hellenic influence”. Although some may balk at this assessment, one gets a sense of this 4000 year period in only thirty pages.

The second thing I liked about the book was this idea of telling history as a story. Most history books approach the subject as if it were a stack of facts. Mr. Ansary reminds us that history is a story with peaks and valleys. He does this by integrating social, political, military and biographical elements around a story arc. Granted details are missing and the author is biased, but after reading this book, one will have an outline of the Middle Eastern “story”. At least one version of it.

Although I enjoyed the book, there were wrenches in the obvious places. The book had a tendency to reference the West in a negative light. It's helpful to compare differences to other countries, but the constant digs at the West became annoying. Sometimes it was subtle, but I found myself rolling my eyes many times.

Even sub-Saharan Africa had Muslim converts now. Only Cathay and darkest Europe remained fully outside the realm. It seemed only a matter of time before Islam fulfilled its destiny and bathed even those regions with light. [P129]
The book is obviously biased toward the Islamic perspective, but it scapegoats thornier issues such as misogyny, slavery and violence. For me, this was the biggest problem with the book. When these issues came up, the book justified the behavior by point to similar examples in other civilizations. This reminded me of children, who justify their bad behavior by pointing out the bad deeds of others. As the quotes below show, the author wasn't always creative either.

Clearly, these women were not shut out of public life, public recognition, and public consequence. The practice of relegating women to an unseen private realm derived, it seems, from Byzantine and Sassanid practices. [P127]

Anxiety about change and a longing for stability tend to deepen traditional and familiar patterns of society. In the Muslim world, these included patriarchal patterns inherent not just in Arabic tribal life but also in pre-Islamic Byzantine and Sassanid societies. [P128]
The book has a tendency to sugar-coat history to fit its agenda. Middle Eastern history is terribly complicated and many books get bogged down with religion and border changes. The book makes this easier by only highlighting major turning points and only including a few personalities. It's also written on a high-school reading level, so it’s approachable for most readers. I didn't always agree, but the author ideas were worth my time.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Destiny Disrupted is not an academic history of the Islamic culture through the ages and Tamim Ansary doesn’t pretend to be to be Islamic Scholar. What Destiny Disrupted is, is a very readable collection of the core stories that make up the Islamic history from its earliest beginnings to right through September 11 attack and the subsequent wars. A narrative of world history that is so different from our own, but as complex and intricate as anything the west as has to offer. Any survey of world history would be incomplete without the Islamic perspective, and Ansary is able to give the Muslim people a context and explains the reasoning behind the shape of their culture without becoming distant and cold to the subject matter demanded from a scholarly work. What Ansary argues isn’t the classic ‘clash of cultures’ that has been taught in the West dating back to the crusades, in fact for much of world history the west had so little to do with the middle world it would be hard to describe much of anything besides the 1st crusade and the current wars as a clash (at least from a wider view of World History). Instead Ansary presents a rather compelling thesis that Islamic history and Western history are two very different world histories trajectories that have only recently collided and are trying to work themselves out. Ansary doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable implications of his thesis: "The argument between Christian and Muslim 'fundamentalists' comes down to: Is there only one God or is Jesus Christ our savior? Again, that's not a point-counterpoint; that's two people talking to themselves in separate rooms." The real disappoint with this book is that once he builds his argument to a final crescendo, he leaves it there with no satisfactory answer. An impossible task I realize and something that is going to have to play itself out on a larger stage.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Mir Ansary's lighthearted prose and lively style make enjoyable reading of this complex topic. Through this alternate perspective not only do we gain an understanding that is critical to our comprehension of current events, but we also gain insight on how events were interpreted by people of that time. Ansary's evenhanded sympathy to all sides and his clear, concise depiction of events and their importance make this book invaluable to historical understanding.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
While the book is useful for a better understanding of how history looks from the perspective of the Muslim world, Ansary repeatedly demonstrates a shallow understanding of Christianity.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A chatty and informative survey that had me hooked when Ansary first talked about meeting Arnold Toynbee as a boy and then flashes forward to 2000 and to when he was working on a world history textbook for kids in high school which had little to say about the Islamic world. At the time Ansary was prepared to conclude that maybe he was just a bit self-involved about wanting to include more of what was after all his own heritage; then 9/11 happened. To a certain degree this book is the result, as Ansary tries to explain the narrative paradigms that every Muslim takes for granted, before considering how the hardwired imperative to build a better self-contained society in the image of the first Muslim community tended to blind the Islamic world to the sweeping social changes coming out of the West, until these communities were unable to respond as equals.This is all done with very little anger and with few illusions about the pain that mutual adaption will involve; Ansary displays little doubt about being justified in calling out the non-Muslin world for its ignorance, while at the same time observing that it's elements of the Islamic world who are going to have to rise above their self-contained understanding and embrace the wider reality, at least if they want to stop being ineffectual. The main exception is the blunt use of the term "holocaust" to describe the disaster that the Mongol conquest inflicted on the Islamic world.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It is very readable, and covers history in a manner which I enjoy, where the ideas of the time are treated along with the events. Although I was aware of a lot of the events, the book provides a cohesive view in which Europeans were not the central actors, but more a a blip on the edge until the last couple of centuries.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I cannot think of another book that I have ever read that has taught me as much about the world we live in. When we view objects with both eyes we can see them with more depth and dimensions. In the same manner Tamim Ansary's book presents another vantage point from which to view and examine world history and our understanding of it grows exponentially. As the title says, this is not a history of the Islamic World; it is a history of the entire world, as seem through the eyes of a Muslim. The causes and effects of such events as the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Great Plague, the Industrial Revolution and the Colonial Age are presented in a stark contrast to what we were taught in Middle School.I cannot recommend this book highly enough. In these turbulent times, it behooves us to be able to understand what drives the thoughts and deeds of those many of us have chosen to consider our enemies.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
What it says on the cover; puts a very different spin on narratives of rise and decline. Given the scope, it was a gallop, but I liked the emphasis on the ways in which Muslim understandings of the founding narratives affected how subsequent generations thought about politics, religion, and the divide or lack thereof between.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
For the non-Arab trying to understand the history of the Middle East I cannot think of a better place to start! The book itself is about 350 pages of actual reading (about 40 pages of the book are notes, bibliography, acknowledgements and index making the book 390 pages). It isn't exactly short but the history in it really is in condensed form. He covers the pre-Islamic Middle World, as he calls it, very briefly and then jumps right into the beginnings of Islam. Even though this text is highly condensed the author manages to give great details about very key figure and events. It's enough to give a reader a very sturdy framework upon which they can continue to build knowledge and fill in information later. Furthermore, he doesn't tell it as dry historical facts but gives a life to the narrative he's telling adding context to everything. He captures the very essensce of what people were feeling and thinking and how they percieved themselves and others. This is something that is often lacking in historical works. Most texts focus heavily on facts alone but fail to give full context in which to place the facts.As a non-Arab Muslim I have done a lot of reading into historical works and trying to place events and people into timelines and places. But this was not the narrative I grew up with. In fact, most of these events and people were never even mentioned in any of the textbooks I ever read. If you received a western education chances are this will be true for you too. What's great about Ansary's approach is that he tells it in an easy to understand way relating occasionally to western events and times that help the reader place what they are reading. I would say this could easily be considered likened to an idiot's guide to the history of the Middle East.If your already familiar with Middle Eastern history (maybe you've read books like A Concise History of the Middle East or something along those lines) you'll still get a lot out of this book and if you know nothing about Middle Eastern history this book will certainly give you a strong foundation.Ansary says in his introduction that "Destiny Disrupted is neither a textbook nor a scholarly thesis. It's more like what I'd tell you if we met in a coffeehouse..." He refers to this work as the story arc of Middle Eastern/Islamic history and that's very much what it is. His writing is fun and accessible. It is a very enjoyable read. He makes some aspects of Islamic history and culture very easy to understand. For example the Sunni and Shi'a split which is something many people do not fully understand. Not only does he explain it in easy to understand terms but he helps fill in what else is happening to the key figures and the thoughts of the ummah at the time. He breaks down understanding things like the main difference between major Shia sects as well as how things like Wahabism came into being.He brings the story right up into the present day ending with an afterword of a post 9/11 world. Anyone familiar with Middle Eastern drama films will find a similarity in the ending of the book as being an unresolved abrupt end. Well... I guess that's to be expected since the Islamic world and Islam in general are in a major state of flux and change right now. Nobody can say where things are going right now for sure but after reading this at least we can understand a little better how we got to where we currently are.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is an important work to consider for an understanding of Islamist prejudices. As Ansary himself explains, he is propagandizing American textbook publishers to promote his biased view of Islamic history and he seeks to evangelize among impressionable and ignorant youth.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
[Destiny Disrupted : A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes] by Tamim Ansary (c2009, 371 pages, finished March 16, 2010)*I read this as a break while reading [Infinite Jest], as my light book. It is actually light; it’s also very readable and entertaining. Ansary writes in the introduction, “Destiny Disrupted is neither a textbook nor a scholarly thesis. It’s more like what I’d tell you if we met in a coffeehouse and you said, ‘What’s all this about a parallel world history?’”This is a history of the world from a “Middle World”, or Islamic perspective. Europe, including Rome, becomes peripheral – although it is granted its own chapter (17 pages, covering 1291 -1600). China gets an occasional mention. It’s Anasary’s response to world histories that essentially disregard the region as peripheral even though it’s huge and, over most of history, excluding far-off China, constituted the center of the civilized world. The scale is very broad, covering all recorded history in about 350 pages. Anansary accomplishes this with sweeping summaries leading the many quotable comments. This was a fun book, filled with fascinating information and people I had not heard of before, and with many interesting interpretations. *This "review" was written in April 3, 2010 - and posted here 2.5 years later
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book is a treasure: a mind-opening look at history from an Islamic viewpoint that's also an engrossing read. I have read a lot of history, including a good deal on various Islamic cultures. Mr. Ansary's book, however, taught me more about the Islamic world and about its interface with our own culture than anything else I have read.The author begins by telling us that his book is neither a thesis nor a scholarly work, and it is neither of these. Instead, it provides a broad overview of world history from an Islamic point of view -- structurally similar to the sort of world history students read in American colleges, but very different in its conclusions! Many of the events described will be familiar to readers of the standard "Western Civ" text. But they look very different in the perspective that Mr. Ansary presents. That difference goes all the way from the beginning of Islam to the current day, challenging underlying assumptions right and left, and shifting the cast of characters so that bit players in the Western narrative become central figures, while much of Western history moves to the sidelines.For me, this is a very valuable experience: I learned a great deal, and I think I may understand current-day Islamic attitudes better than I did. Don't read this book if you are looking for a detailed and documented history of the Islamic world; as Mr. Ansary says, this is not a scholarly work. It is, however, a very wise and valuable one -- do read it if you want to know more about the world you live in.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
something special
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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