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Infidels
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About the Author

ANDREW WHEATCROFT is the author of many books including The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire, The Ottomans: Dissolving Images, and (with John Keegan) Zones of Conflict: An Atlas of Future Wars. One of the first scholars to use photography in writing the history of the Middle East, he has made art and images a central focus of his work. He is director of the international postgraduate Centre for Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling in Scotland.

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Wheatcroft (director, Centre for Publishing Studies, Univ. of Stirling., U.K.) here traces the cultural antagonism between the Christian and Muslim worlds, particularly in terms of language and attitudes. He reviews key contacts and flashpoints, focusing on al-Andalus (Islamic Spain), the Crusader period, European struggles against the Ottomans (especially in the Balkans), and today's war on terrorism. Although Wheatcroft points out that each religious world pronounced maledictions against the other, he leans toward a critique of the Christian response to Islam, condemns Christendom's tendency to be at least as brutal as its adversaries, and faults it for ignorance of Islamic civilization and faith. Wheatcroft particularly criticizes George W. Bush for adopting the language and thinking of this historic divide and for lacking the elevated rhetoric of such presidents as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. The book contains helpful information on the origins of Christian-Muslim antagonisms but is not incisive or complete enough to stand on its own. It should be balanced by the work of David Blanks, Norman Daniel, Karen Armstrong, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and W. Montgomery Watt. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-William P. Collins, Library of Congress Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Historian Wheatcroft (The Ottomans) adds another volume to the steadily growing literature on the history of Christian-Muslim relations. Part philosophical treatise, part history and part diatribe, Wheatcroft's study adds little that has not been covered already by more thorough and elegant studies such as F.E. Peters's recent The Monotheists. He offers an overview of the tortured relations between Christianity and Islam in various contexts including the Crusades, Spain, the Middle East and Bosnia. Wheatcroft opens his book with an account of the 1571 battle of Lepanto, where Christians triumphed over the Muslims. Using the theoretical writings of Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and Stephen Greenblatt, Wheatcroft emphasizes that the conflict between the two religions most often devolved into a war of words in which one side used dehumanizing language to describe the other and to thereby sanction war. He helpfully brings his study into the 21st century by examining briefly the religious rhetoric that President Bush and General William Boykin have used to defend the attack on Iraq and other Muslim nations. Unfortunately, Wheatcroft betrays his own ideological position by referring to Muslim terrorists as a "virus" and by defending the Bush administration's positions on the war, thereby diminishing the value the book might have as an objective description of the conflicts between Christianity and Islam. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Praise for Infidels "Islam is a power that rose, fell, and rose again. All who wish to know the story will need to read Andrew Wheatcroft's compelling work."
--JOHN KEEGAN "Wheatcroft has written an excellent and truly remarkable book. He reminds us of something vital, and too often forgotten: Most of those who were 100 percent sure that the infidels--call them Saracens, Agarenes, Ishmaelites, or Turks--were completely savage and barbarous had never met or seen a Saracen or a Turk in their lives. Somehow they just knew that these aliens should be hated and feared. As a promoter of dialogue between East and West, I agree with Wheatcroft--that unfortunately, now just as much as in the past, it is media outlets and the spreading of false knowledge that promote hostility."
--HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN TALAL OF JORDAN "Rattling good reading . . . [Wheatcroft's] humane conclusion is admirable."
--FELIPE FERN NDEZ-ARMESTO, The Sunday Times (London) "Gripping, often blood-curdling, history. . . recounted with tremendous literary flair."
--JOHN ADAMSON, The Sunday Telegraph (London)

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