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What Went Wrong?

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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.
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a New York Times bestseller Bernard Lewis is the greatest living historian of the Middle East explains Islamic anger behind the events of September 11th and the Palestinian and other conflicts

About the Author

Bernard Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Formerly Professor of Middle Eastern History at the School of Oriental & African Studies, London, 1949-74.


Since its inception in the seventh century, Islamic civilization has remained a significant force in the world. In fact, the Muslim world was a leader in the humanities, arts, and sciences while Europe was still in relative darkness and mired in internecine wars and religious zealotry. The Muslim world was also largely responsible for preserving and transmitting Greek and other Western scholarship to Christian Europe. However, Islamic civilization was eventually overshadowed by the achievements of European Christendom, and much of the Muslim world came under the direct or indirect domination of the West. In this highly readable book, eminent historian Lewis (Near Eastern studies, emeritus, Princeton Univ.) explains Islam's encounter with the West and the Middle East's varied responses to the West's sociocultural and political hegemony in the Muslim world. Like many of Lewis's previous writings on this subject (e.g., The Arabs in History), this book will undoubtedly generate significant debate and disagreement among scholars regarding the author's analysis of Islamic responses to modernity and Westernization. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, AL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

This had a press date of 2 May. Bernard did a big interview with the SUNDAY TIMES NEWS REVIEW section which ran on 5 May and we have had some good reviewcoverage with reviews still coming in: ''WHAT WENT WRONG? is a masterly, engaging account of its (the Islamic state) steady decline and clashes with modernity.'Stephen Grey, THE SUNDAY TIMES 'Those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the current problems in the Middle East should start by reading this book, written by a great scholar whose respect for a once-great civilisation is as clear as his cool-headed analysis of what it has become today.'Ian Buruma, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'authoritative book'Akbar Ahmed,THE GUARDIAN 'bold lines of discussion and masterly perspective'Anton La Guardian, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'the book is a great pleasure to read because of the breadth of Lewis's knowledge, his ability to summon up the illuminating quotation, his familiarity with unsual byways of historical investigation, and, of course, the delightful fluency of his pen.'ME Yapp, LITERARY REVIEW 'Few contemporary scholars of Islamic culture and history can match the erudition and insight of Lewis. In this work he offers a learned and absorbing explanation of the reasonsfor the rather sad state in which the Muslim world finds itself today despite all the achievements and glory that Islam enjoyed in medieval times. And a very compelling explanation it is too'.COMMONWEALTH LAWYERS ASSOCIATION 2002 The book was also selected by John Gross in the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH for his summe

In the fields of Islamic and Middle Eastern history, few people are as prominent and prolific as Lewis, emeritus professor at Princeton. This time around, however, he has written a book with an inconsistent argument and an erratic narrative consisting of recycled themes from his earlier books, a work that sheds no new light on Middle Eastern history or on the events of September 11. His general argument is that Islamic civilization, once flourishing and tolerant, has in modern times become stagnant. This, he contends, has led to considerable soul-searching among Muslims, who ask themselves, "What went wrong?" But while sometimes the author states that there is a critical inquiry into the source of economic weakness in Muslim civilizations, other times he says that, instead of looking into the mirror, Muslims have blamed their problems on Europeans or Jews and thus fed their sense of victimhood. In medieval times, Lewis notes, Muslim civilization transmitted scientific ideas into Europe. But after offering intriguing examples of Muslim physicians and astronomers on the cutting edge in the 13th to 15th centuries, this chapter abruptly ends by stating that in modern times the roles have reversed, leaving the reader baffled over what between the 15th and the 20th centuries may have contributed to this reversal. Thus, the book raises more questions than it answers. Furthermore, Lewis discounts the effects of various decisions made by European and American colonial powers that negatively impacted the development of a democratic political community and a viable economy in the Middle East. Lewis's earlier books, such as The Muslim Discovery of Europe and The Middle East and the West, are much more useful for anyone seeking to understand the historical dynamic between these two parts of the world. First serial to Atlantic Monthly. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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