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The Assassins Paperback – November 26, 2002
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"No one writes about Muslim history with greater authority, or intelligence, or literary charm than Professor Bernard Lewis." -- Sunday Times (London)
"[Lewis] traces with an easy, almost conversational scholarship the emergence, triumph, and sudden demise of the [Assassin] faith." -- The New Yorker
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The group we call the Assassins are more accurately known as the Nizari Ismailis, an offshoot sect of Shi'i Islam. Their sect still survives today in the followers of the Aga Khan, whose communities from India to southern California reflect a progressive and humane face of Islam. From the late eleventh to thirteenth centuries, however, the Nizaris' struggle for survival in the midst of their more numerous and militarily powerful Sunni enemies led them to develop a form of defensive terrorism that proved remarkably effective in ensuring their security for almost two hundred years. In the end, however, the sect's lurid reputation proved its undoing -- for the Mongol khans ultimately concluded that their own safety could only be secured by the Assassins' extermination.
There are some similarities between the Assassins' modus operandi and that of today's Al-Qaeda terrorists.Read more ›
It turns out that, as far as anyone knows, the Assassins are merely a splinter of the group called Ismailis (which still exists in Muslim countries, as a partially suppressed heresy). They existed for about three centuries, between the mid 11th century and the late 14th, in what is now northern Iran, and southern Syria. They never controlled a major city, and as a political entity, they appear to have survived largely through personal intimidation. While they were only so-so when it came to defeating armies, they were very effective at eliminating their leadership. In that era in which personal leadership, through monarchs and their surrogates, was the order of business for most governments in the area, this was particularly effective.
I enjoyed this book a great deal. If I do have a complaint, it's that the sum of knowledge about the Assassins, at least when Lewis wrote this, was rather thin, and so of course you don't get that much on them. The book itself runs to just about 150 pages in length, with an appendix which is another 50 pages tacked onto the end. The paucity of information isn't Lewis's fault, though, it's due to the secretiveness of the sect itself. Aside from that, the book is very well-done, interesting, and informative.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nicely done. Provided me with several historical insights into this disturbing sect of IslamPublished 6 months ago by UHertz
Lewis writes in the introduction that his publishers and reviewers in recent years have sensationalized the book by linking the study to modern Islamic terrorism. Read morePublished 20 months ago by L. King
No wonder many hate Bernard Lewis in my homeland but still read his books. If we could write about the medieval history of Europe for instance with this clarity and skillfull... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Desert Moh
If you enjoy reading really dry books then this one is for you....The book was informative while at the same time boring.... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Ricardus Tercius
This is a teacher's book - sometimes pretty uneasy to read. Reminds me a couple of guys at university who "understood themselves"
Don't get me wrong I am commenting the... Read more
Truth be told I bought this because I'm an Assassin creed fan but after buying this for my kindle fire I could hardly put it down and I am loving everything i am reading with in... Read morePublished on January 30, 2013 by Yahiko
It took me awhile to get the book, considering I kept having to re-order it from different companies....but I finally got it! And it is a fascinating read! Read morePublished on May 7, 2012 by kittkatt