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Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes Paperback – April 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586488139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586488130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Baptist Standard
“Reading [Tom] Friedman, I was motivated to learn more about the Muslim view of world history. I found a remarkable guide in Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted.”
General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret)
"Tamim Ansary has written a truely superb history of the Islamic world.  His excellent analysis provides the reader with an insightful understanding of how that world and its people were shaped by events.  This is a must read for all those who want to understand the evolution of a significant global society and how it has interacted with the rest of the world.'

Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
“Ansary has written an informative and thoroughly engaging look at the past, present and future of Islam. With his seamless and charming prose, he challenges conventional wisdom and appeals for a fuller understanding of how Islam and the world at large have shaped each other. And that makes this book, in this uneasy, contentious post 9/11 world, a must-read.”

Dave Eggers, TheRumpus.net
“I’m in the middle of Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes, and it’s incredibly illuminating. Ansary pretty much covers the entire history of Islam in an incredibly readable and lucid way. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know. Especially when people are looking for a comprehensive-but-approachable way to look at world history through the lens of Islam, there’s no better book.”

San Francisco Chronicle
"A must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the Islamic world. But the book is more than just a litany of past events. It is also an indispensable guide to understanding the political debates and conflicts of today, from 9/11 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the Somali pirates to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. As Ansary writes in his conclusion, "The conflict wracking the modern world is not, I think, best understood as a 'clash of civilizations.' ... It's better understood as the friction generated by two mismatched world histories intersecting." 

Portland Oregonian
“Never apologist in tone, meticulously researched and balanced, often amusing but never glib, Destiny Disrupted is ultimately a gripping drama that pulls the reader into great, seminal events of world history, a book which offers a wealth of knowledge and insight to any reader who wants to understand the movements and events behind the modern-day hostilities wracking Western and Islamic societies.” 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“If you want to put today's headlines about jihadist suicide bombings into the much larger context of history, you'd be well advised to settle in with Destiny Disrupted. It's the story of a civilization that suddenly found itself upended by strangers and now wants to put itself right. And if author Ansary stops short of calling the result a clash of civilizations, he feels free to call it two one-sided views of world history. His book is a valuable tool for opening up a view of the other side.” 

Shelf Awareness
“A lively, thorough and accessible survey of the history of Islam (both the religion and its political dimension) that explores many of the disconnects between Islam and the West.”
 
DAWN.com (Pakistan)</I>, August 15, 2010
“Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted: A history of the world through Islamic eyes is an important work for understanding both past and present issues surrounding the Middle East and the West — Europe and North America — and world history more generally… Ansary’s highly approachable writing style makes the very dense subject of Middle Eastern history easy to digest.” 

David Frum’s FrumForum, August 16, 2010
“An amusing and anecdotal survey of Islamic history”

San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 2011
“[The fire] was roaring nicely, and I was seated not far from it, reading "Destiny Disrupted" by Tamim Ansary, which is the perfect book for someone who knows hardly anything about the history of the Muslim world and feels that, really, what with things the way they are, a little more attention to detail would be useful. It's one of those "fascinating new fact every paragraph" books. Would you like to know how the Shiite-Sunni schism happened? It's all here. Rumi the poet? He's here. Empires, sultanates, wars, atrocities, cities of great beauty now lost forever, the whole deal. Even the chapters on theology are enjoyable, and I'm not big on the minutiae of belief systems.”

About the Author

Tamim Ansary is the author of the memoir West of Kabul, East of New York, co-author with Farah Ahmadi of the New York Times bestseller The Other Side of the Sky, and has been a major contributing writer to several secondary school history textbooks. Ansary is director of the San Francisco Writers Workshop.

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Customer Reviews

The book is very well written.
Joseph Shargal
I was hungry for a longer discussion of the meaning and impact of 9/11 from an Islamic perspective, and I hope the author will do that in some other publication.
Michael Chorost
Anyone who wants to understand Islam and how it relates to world history and the present situation should read this book.
Frank Bellizzi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Michael Chorost on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I could not stop reading this book. I loved the grand sweep of it and the author's wise, gently humorous voice.

He has the right background to speak about, and to, both cultures: Born in Afghanistan to an Afghan father and an American mother, Ansary emigrated to the U.S. in his teens and went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He has lived in the U.S. ever since, with trips back to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

I was fascinated by the book's discussion of Islam's early years in the 7th century, the discussion of Islamic reform movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the compassionate overview of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East.

For that long-running disaster Ansary assigns blame and plenty to everyone involved, and I mean everyone -- including the British, the Americans, the Russians, and the Saudis. And that's just for starters.

His evaluation of the Six Day War in 1967 is eye-opening; he argues that it was a military triumph in the short term but did more harm than good to Israel in the long term.

I was hungry for a longer discussion of the meaning and impact of 9/11 from an Islamic perspective, and I hope the author will do that in some other publication. That aside, this is the perfect book for readers wanting a readable, friendly, big-picture story of how Islam came to be and the religious and cultural frameworks that shape its view of world history.

We desperately need more informed, compassionate, and wise writing of this nature from Mr. Ansary, who has lived in both worlds and can help each understand the other.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on July 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tamim Ansary's 'History of the World through Islamic Eyes' is purposefully reminiscent of H.G. Wells's 'Outline of History' or of Will Durant's many volumes, or of any high school textbook of Western Civilization, meaning implicitly everything worth recording. Ansary declares as much in his preface. He intends to write a universal history from the point of view of the 'Middle World', in which Europe will be peripheral until the final chapters. No, not Jung Gwo, the "Middle Realm" of China! In fact, China will be even more peripheral than Europe in Ansary's textbook. His Middle World will be Islam, as a culture and a civilization, and his middle point in geography, Mecca, will also be his starting point in time.

The European outline of history has always been the westward succession of leadership, from Greece to Rome to northern Europe to America, a viewpoint of manifest destiny that has justified much imperialism and jingoism. An Islamic history, Ansary says, would be an expansion from a center, rather like ripples spreading from the event of the Hijra in 622 AD, an expansion that should have been destined to encompass the whole world. For the first thousand years of this history, it was perfectly plausible for the most educated classes of Islamic societies to maintain such a viewpoint, Ansary maintains. But then that 'destiny' was disrupted by the unforeseen economic and technological revolutions of the rude barbarians of Europe. Such a perception of history, as a calamitous disruption of the proper order of things, underlies the resentment and hostility of Muslims throughout the Middle World toward the West.

Ansary writes very simply. His prose would pass muster for a high school textbook. But his simplicity is eloquent and lucid.
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77 of 90 people found the following review helpful By bookfan on May 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
But I did. I liked Ansary's memoir and wanted to understand the East/West relationship. I ended up savoring every page for 2 days straight. Ansary is a great storyteller and a wise soul. It's not like reading academic history. It's like sitting down with a sage and listening to him tell you a terrific story. It's fascinating that the Islamic world has a totally different (yet legitimate) view of history that emphasizes different events. Europe's dark ages were their Renaissance. Western domination after WWII was their humiliation. Yet both sides steal each others' ideas. I don't think I really understood the world until I read this. Interesting fact: we would know nothing about Aristotle if it wasn't for Persians preserving his work.
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154 of 203 people found the following review helpful By growingtrees on July 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Overall, this book is well worth reading because of the narrative, fluid way it ties together the arc of Islamic history. I've read all these historical facts before, but it really helped to get that information all together and presented by someone coming from a culture who values that story as their own story.

I also appreciate the honest way that Tamim Ansary approaches Islam's history of offensive violence and jihad, going back all the way to at least the four Rashidun Rightly Guided Caliphs.

That being said, this book is riddled with gross omissions, Islamic chauvinism, a glaring contradiction, and some factual errors.

Gross Omissions:
1) Nowhere does Tamim Ansary discuss how Muslims treated pagans, Manichaeans, Buddhists or Jains. Why? Because Muslims weren't nearly as kind to them as they were to Christians and Jews. Sometimes Muslims treated Hindus & Zoroastrians as well as Christians & Jews, and of course Ansary highlights those some times while not mentioning the other times Muslims did not treat Hindus or Zoroastrians as relatively kindly as they treated Peoples of the Book.
2) Tamim Ansary goes to great lengths, in a book about "Islamic" history, to mention Christians enslaving Africans, but neglects to discuss the millions of Africans who were enslaved in Mesopotamia in the 8-10th centuries and who rebelled under the Zanj Rebellions. He also doesn't mention Muslims roles in facilitating sales of slaves to Christians, nor in how Muslim inspired Christians to start the colonial slave trade in the first place.
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