One of the most compelling books on Islam is partly very old. The World of Islam
collects articles and photographs first published by the National Geographic Society, beginning with a 1910 essay by Ella C. Sykes entitled "Persia and Its Women" and continuing through nearly a century of reportage on the strife-torn Middle East, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and a visit to Iraq after the Gulf War. The final chapter was reported in early September 2001 and contains a chilling account of the reporter's chance meeting with two Moroccan journalists who subsequently killed Afghan leader Ahmad Massoud in a suicide attack two days before the bombings of the World Trade Center. Throughout the book, the reporter's first-hand accounts document the rise of Islam in the 20th century and the rise of anti-Western sentiments. To its credit, National Geographic also includes painful examples of the changing attitudes of the West toward Islam. The patronizing attitudes expressed in some of the earliest reports make us cringe today, but are invaluable nonetheless.
From Publishers Weekly
With reprinted articles that span nearly a century from Ella C. Sykes's 1910 consideration of women's powerlessness in Shiite Persia to Edward Girardet's 2001 reflection on Muslim warlords and a surprise conversation with Osama bin Laden the National Geographic Society's The World of Islam, edited by Don Belt, offers a panoramic portrait in words and photographs. Over 150 striking illustrations reveal cities, mosques, marketplaces and battlegrounds, and more than 25 articles cover the rich history of a religion that's practiced today by one person in every five in the world.
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