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Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries Hardcover – October 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

Jihad is back, says Paul Fregosi, but this current incarnation has a long history behind it. From the start, Islamic fundamentalism has intended to expand the Muslim religion to encompass the entire world through conversion, or, in many instances, violence. Yet until now it has lacked a general historical narrative: "The jihad has been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history," writes Fregosi. Jihad in the West attempts to describe the history of Islamic and European conflict over 1,500 years, including moments such as the climactic battle at Tours (if the Moors had won it in 732, much of Europe might be Muslim today), the sieges of Vienna, and the Barbary Corsairs (the battle U.S. Marines refer to when they sing about "the shores of Tripoli"). Such a sweep necessarily sacrifices detail for breadth, yet it still provides a helpful backdrop to understanding a religious movement that has played a prominent role in late-20th-century terrorism. Many Muslims will quarrel with Fregosi when he compares jihad to a Christian sacrament, and the book would benefit from footnotes. Jihad in the West nevertheless is a good introduction to an often-ignored topic. --John J. Miller

From Booklist

Although not The Satanic Verses, this book is sure to raise much of the same issues and ire, and come into demand simply because of its notoriety. It is a look at the darker side of the Islamic religion, from its inception with Muhammad up through the first half of this century, lightly touching on recent decades. Fregosi shows that jihad, or holy war, did not come about as a reaction to the Crusades but has been a continually integral part of Islam. While not excusing the barbarities of Christianity, he highlights how Islam has been particularly ruthless in its acquisition of lands and wealth and in dealing with those who have stood in its path. Although most of this history is well documented and factually indisputable, the author will likely generate considerable umbrage with his interpretation of many of Muhammad's actions and suryas (teachings) as manifesting a self-serving nature. This title is a highly recommended, if problematic, historical perspective, suitable for most libraries. Eric Robbins

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573922471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573922470
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By M. D Roberts on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This well researched, easy to read and perhaps timely book grips the readers attention throughout.

A contention is held in the book that the described Muslim military conquests of centuries past, and the terrorist campaigns of the modern day, share much more than just the same name of "Jihad" but also encompass what the book cites as the Muslim "distaste for and basic antagonism to" the entire non-Muslim world that is described herein as being seen to be "blasphemers and infidels".

While some readers may find such comments to be contentious or inflammatory, the book submits these subjects to a meticulous scrutiny with a view to presenting an appropriate context to these assertions.

Throughout it is clear that the writer strives to provide an objective analysis wherever possible without attacking the fundamental aspects of the Islamic religion - instead attempting to concentrate on the context of it's implications & relationship to the furtherance of Jihad itself.

The writer states that Jihad has possibly been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history and introduces his study as perhaps being one of the first pertaining to the subject of Jihad, arguing that history has largely ignored what are described as the Muslim attacks and invasions of Europe from the seventh to the twentieth centuries, instead being content to remain transfixed on the Christian Crusades.
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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I finished reading Paul Fregosi's book two nights ago and am still thinking about it. This was a memorable and engaging work of history, vividly written. I thought Fregosi's work was well documented and well "sourced" from an historian's and academician's standpoint. I also thought his was an original contribution (and counterbalance) to the existing literature. The early Islamists were the original imperialists. Centuries before Spain began its empire in the New World or the Hapsburg's ruled theirs, the Arabic Empire under the Umayyads and the Abbasids had already subjected (and even forcibly enslaved) entire peoples across North Africa, southern Europe, Italy, Sicily and the Middle East at the point (literally) of the sword. The imperialist facets of early Islam are a fact. When viewed from the perspective of the Islamic conquests of Europe in the 7th-12th centuries, the Christian Crusades are revealed to be what they always were - a counter-jihad or counter-crusade. These were responses to the highly successful Jihad of the Muslims. Pope Urban lifted a page from the Muslim playbook and came up with the Crusade idea. This is detailed in the book with appropriate cites.
For all that, I thought Fregosi was fair, dispassionate and hard on both sides of these wars. At not several but MANY points in the book he condemns violence committed by both sides. I think he goes to some pains to indicate he is not anti-Muslim by sticking to the facts and by equally condemning all violence. Smart thing too, since some Muslims can display a tendency to violently react to anyone who criticizes or asks uncomfortably honest questions about their culture, faith, past military history, warrior-mentality, etcetera.
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222 of 247 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is brilliant and the first one of its kind that I encountered in my reading experience. It is one of those unique books that hold such an antagonistic and seemingly biased tone, and yet this element of extremely strong and vivid personal opinion hardly interferes with this book's facts, credibility, and two-sided analysis. In any case, the subject of Jihad is probably the only subject in history in which an objective argument fails in eliminating persistent biased tones, especially tones of anger and disgust. Why? Because the extremity of historical truth in this matter is self-evident.
This book is probably bound, at first,to discourage most objective people with no bias towards Islam, from continuing to read it; it's definitely going to have Imams and sheiks shrieking for blood and to have devout Muslims, fanatics and moderates alike, insulted to a large degree, but a persistent reader who can ignore for a while the apparent hostility in this book, may slowly find out that this work rests its claims on many reliable sources that can be found in a rich bibliography and is an accurate portrayal of long-hidden historical facts that have been shrugged off by many as hogwash or kept in the closet by those too intimidated by the Muslim World in exposing as apparent truths the base and unequaled crimes committed by the Muslim World throughout its long forgotten history.
This book even goes so far as to critique Muslim teachings and the prophet's life itself, the very core of Islam, thus crushing the common argument that the Muslim World's actions (or rather today's fundamentalists') were never in concord with its inherent religion or its prophet.
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