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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This may be Ibn Warraq's best book!
I am a long-standing fan of Ibn Warraq. I thoroughly enjoyed his ground-breaking book, Why I Am Not a Muslim, and especially liked one of his follow-up books, Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays.

But this may be his best book yet.

I have to say, right off the bat, that it is biased. It seems to have been created as a document to refute...
Published on December 19, 2011 by Geoff Puterbaugh

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11 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The West is the Best but Warraq Could've Done Better
I have read many books critical of Islam. Writers like Robert Spencer, M.A. Khan, John Azumah, Chuck Morse & John J. O'Neill are among the multitude authors who I am thankful to have read and honored to refer to my friends. But what of Ibn Warraq, the pioneer that is among the first to have started this movement... the man who has inspired giants like Christopher Hitchens...
Published on February 13, 2012 by Shivaji


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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This may be Ibn Warraq's best book!, December 19, 2011
By 
Geoff Puterbaugh (Chiang Mai, T. Suthep, A. Muang Thailand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
I am a long-standing fan of Ibn Warraq. I thoroughly enjoyed his ground-breaking book, Why I Am Not a Muslim, and especially liked one of his follow-up books, Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays.

But this may be his best book yet.

I have to say, right off the bat, that it is biased. It seems to have been created as a document to refute anti-American (and anti-Western) leftists. It is quite definitely a reply to the "wets," who can find nothing wrong in the world except for "Western racism, imperialism, and genocide." And Warraq's reply is not antagonistic, in any way. It could be summed up as, "You don't know nothing yet."

The book begins with a surprising, but delightful, hymn to New York City. Warraq has previously written about "how he became an Englishman," but by now he is clearly an Englishman in love with New York. He takes two separate tracks in praising the city: the first is (again, surprisingly) his love affair with Tin Pan Alley and the best of the American musicals, and the second is his visit to a place that might be called "Little India," where every imaginable Indian product is for sale to the crowds which appear every day -- delicious curries and the ingredients which go into them, Indian silks and saris -- and so on: the complete list would consume this entire review!

But Ibn Warraq is most informative on subjects like slavery and imperialism. On slavery, he dispassionately points out the worst offenders in the matter of slavery (the Arabs, and perhaps the Africans themselves) and points out that the end of slavery came from the West. It certainly did not come from Medina or Marrakesh, Algiers or Tunis. There are many more interesting facts which will surprise most readers.

On imperialism, he is quite astonishing. He points out, en passant, the admiration of Western scholars for the Islamic conquest of the world, while of course there is no admiration of any sort for the British Empire. Warraq goes into this in devastating detail, when he compares the Islamic "raj" in India with the British "raj" in India. The Islamic "raj" lasted 700 years and left nothing good behind it. It left only a record of destruction. It managed to destroy Buddhism in India, as well as most of the Buddhist temples, and it destroyed Hindu temples by the thousand. (It also destroyed Hindu people by the "lakh.")

The "ferocious, imperialist" Britons, on the other hand, had a "raj" which lasted 200 years. And, when they left, they left behind them ports, roads, railways, the English law, English parliamentary democracy, universities, the English language, and Indians well-educated in medicine, law, science and other fields. As Dinesh D'Souza remarked, "Other than that, the British did absolutely nothing for India."

As I remarked at the opening, this book is biased. Don't open it and expect to find another catalog of the sins of the West, real and imaginary. What you will find here is a robust and highly effective defense of what the West has done RIGHT, including human rights, freedom, democracy, and -- perhaps most important -- the freedom to construct your own life by your own lights.

Put this one on your required reading list!!
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong defense of the west for the 21st century, December 23, 2011
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This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
It is hard to know whether it is sad or encouraging that the West now finds its staunchest defenders from the ranks of non-Westerners (Hirshi Ali, Mangalwadi, D'Souza, etc). Although I have been aware of Warraq for quite some time, it was his publication on this topic along with some impressive pre-release interviews that finally pulled me in to reading him. Warraq is truly a leading intellectual with an incredibly broad learning, and that is what his book uniquely contributes. He brings in information about the rest of the world that makes our American perspective look provincial.

The book opens with a long panegyric to New York City, and especially the music spawned there in the early part of the century as an encapsulation of what is great about the West. This part was interesting, but did not accomplish what I think it was intended to -- it came off as more of an excurses at times than it did a metonym. The pay off, however, comes in the second half of the book, when he gets to his home territory. His expose on Islamic slavery is an absolute embarrassment to the Western elite. He brings together material on Islamic and African slavery that is devastating, as it should be common knowledge instead of obscuranta. He then proceeds into self-criticism and religious freedom.

The subtitle is misleading however. This is not a defense of liberal democracy, it is a defense of Western values as a whole and an appeal for us to believe in them again. It's a full frontal assault on multiculturalism and the Marxist historiography that supports it. In particular he recognizes throughout that human rights are unique to the Western tradition and the building block for everything else. Warraq's theoretical framework seemed to shift between conservative and classical liberal footings throughout the book, weakening the overall vision, but this does not detract from his assembly of such a broad defense of the West.

Warraq defends the West as a non-religious secularist who is at the same time not hostile to Christianity -- something that we do not know how to classify in most of contemporary American culture. There is something for us to learn from this. In fact, one could argue that this will be the fundamental choice for secularists in the 21st century -- which religion to side with against the other. As of today, our secular elites are so blinded by their disdain for Christianity that they ignore the much more obvious and dramatic flaws in Islam. Warraq rips off the veil, and forces to re-examine the question.

In this vein, I was surprised for his wide learning that he did not draw on Rodney Stark at all, who has covered a lot of this same ground. It may have enriched his argument. I recommend Stark's The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion as a complement to this.

This is the kind of book you dare your more open left-leaning friends to read. In fact, I dare you to read it!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impassioned, eye opening defense of the West, February 11, 2012
By 
Mark A. Koch (Croton-on-Hudson, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
Ibn Warraq has written a tremendously well researched and documented book and makes a persuasive case that what we come to think of as "western values" are really universal values that simply put, are principles that work best in terms of guiding human behavior, governing societies, fostering growth of science and the arts, and helping people reach their full potential,

As a person educated in the Eastern US, and an avid reader of the NYT, I have been amazed several times by the historical facts Mr Warraq documents that were heretofore unknown to me. There are very interesting expositions of Islamic, African, Indian, Japanese and Chinese culture and history, that one seldom reads about.

(I choose not to mention them specifically here because I fear this would lead to an endless steam of comments, defenses and accusations.)

I would also recommend this to anyone who has read "Guns Germs and Steel" because Mr Warraq raises some very interesting counterpoints to Mr Diamond's arguments.

This is a very important work which i'm sure will grow to become a best seller. It will open your eyes to much history that has been sanitized, or overlooked by the American educational system and media.

I highly recommend reading this book - although many may find the facts uncomfortable, and its likely to become controversial, its written in a very thoughtful rational tone and merits serious consideration and debate.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A case against Western breast-beating, February 8, 2012
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This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
Although not strictly speaking a scholarly book (comments about Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, for example), Warraq does a good job of demonstrating how Western civilization was a positive force rather than the negative one presented in the "received wisdom" gleaned from so many popular books and movies and swallowed whole by a public possessing little if any knowledge of actual history. I had already read his "Defense of the West", a much-needed corrective to the Orientalism of Edward Said. Some of the material in this book seems to have been taken over verbatim from the older one, which was a bit disappointing, but "Why the West is Best" presents his arguments in a more concise way under various chapter headings, thus making information on many points easily accessible; definitely a plus. (Having grown up in New York, I also appreciated his encomium on the Big Apple!)

Unfortunately he's probably preaching to the choir, since in this day and age political correctness precludes open and honest discussion of facts such as the Arab and African role in the slave trade, for example, or the lack of basic freedoms in what the British euphemistically call "Asian" countries. The Western nations have done enough breast-beating and it's about time this stopped; if we denigrate our own history because of ignorance or false information we will never be in a position to defend our culture, which despite its failings, is worthy of defense. Here this book is invaluable, being very readable (I haven't always cared for Warraq's style in some of his past writings) and well-documented, as always.

My final comment is not strictly speaking about Warraq's book, but I would like, just once, to hear a representative of the mainstream Muslim world admit to some of their own culture's failings, as we in the West have been doing almost ceaselessly over the past thirty years or so. But a misplaced idea of "honor" and fear of losing face cripples any kind of honest exchange: If one is always the victim and the other the perpetrator, we will get nowhere, or at least not to a place we'd like to be.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it, July 27, 2012
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This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
Many interesting topics appeared in the book , from New York which Symbolized the western spirit to the roots and causes of this great civilization , the challenges and problems which face The West today and other different topics. Ibn Warraq provides many statistic about slavery and racism which I personally benefit from knowing Such as that Muslims enslaved 17 million African , killing of around 8 million Hindu and destroying 10000s of their temples according to islamic sources. The reason why I benefit from Such examples is that I never heard them , yet I always hear about how rude the west is towards others , the Same west that abolish slavery in it's lands and in the Islamic and African countries. He shed some light on many enlightenment intellectuals whom ideas shaped the way people and institutions think in the west. I am not westerner by nationality , though I am one by spirit and mind, and I agree totally with the author point view. Ibn Warraq didn't disappoints me in this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very well researched and informative, April 29, 2012
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This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
Very interesting and easy to read. Very well researched. 60 pages of bibliography. He draws information from sources as varied as Plato, Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul, Gandi, muslim leaders, and Christopher Hitchens. He uses all of the major religious books of the world and period writers for the last 2500 years from all over the world, his own personall experiences and historians to boot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The world needs to read this book. High time ..., December 6, 2014
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The world needs to read this book. High time to stop feeling ashamed of ourselves, high time to stop feeling "all cultures are equal", high time to stop allowing false "narratives" from running the show and destroying everything it took so long and so hard to build, the Western democracies. That's not to say we are anything near perfection, or that nobody else contributed to the gestalt that humanity is today, but it is time to say - yes, we have TONS to be proud of. It is time we should appreciate ourselves for what we are and stop the trend of demeaning ourselves in front of backwards, aggressive "cultures" running on lies and primitive myths.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why The West Is Best, July 3, 2012
By 
Al (MCKINNEY, TEXAS, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
A very informative read by a reformed Muslim. We do have the best form of government. We ARE the last, best nation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, Ibn Warraq assessment is awesome, October 1, 2014
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Great read, Ibn Warraq assessment is awesome, and right we (the west) have become better by acknowledging our faults and weaknesses, by our principles of equality before the law, the dispassionate search for the truth, and the ability to act in accord with your own conscious has produced the greatest civilization on Earth. We need to challenge the idea that we are the sole doers of evil on the planet. This book is a good place to start.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neccessary reading, May 4, 2014
This review is from: Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy (Hardcover)
One should never underestimate the bravery it takes to write books like this. Especially considering the fact that in this instance it amounts to apostasy. This was a well written and enlightening approach to some of the most disturbing problems of our time. Not enough people have read this book nor do I expect enough ever will, but the fact that it exists is itself a salve.
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