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A World Without Islam Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 11, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this wide-ranging historical text, Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, suggests that many of the current tensions that exist between the East and the West have geopolitical rather than religious origins and that these tensions would have arisen in a "world without Islam." The author opens the book with a theological analysis that emphasizes the continuities among the three Abrahamic faiths. He then pivots to an extended history of the Christian world that focuses on the conflict between Latin and Byzantine Europe, pointing out that the schism between them largely motivated the Crusades. The book then covers the relationship of Islam to Russia, India, and China before turning to the Muslim world specifically, surveying its centuries-long decline from a position of cultural, political, and economic dominance. Fuller covers an extraordinary number of subjects lucidly, and whether readers are persuaded by his valorization of geopolitics above religion, he cogently lays out the complex causes of contemporary conflicts and makes bold policy recommendations that move conversations about East-West relations beyond religious and ideological divides.
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*Starred Review* Challenging commentators who regard Islam as the seedbed of anti-Western terrorism, Fuller argues that the perilous tensions between the West and the Middle East spring from nonreligious sources, not Islamic theology. Fuller defends his provocative thesis by showing that long before Muhammad, the peoples of the Middle East viewed the Western powers as interlopers. Readers explore, in particular, the ways the eleventh- and twelfth-century Christian crusaders against Islam were replaying scripts written by Roman Catholic authorities, who suppressed heresies in the Levant and then waged doctrinal war against the patriarchs of Eastern Orthodoxy. The persistence of pre-Islamic resentments surfaces most tellingly in the willingness of Catholic crusaders to ignore the Muslims long enough to sack the Christian (but Eastern Orthodox) city of Constantinople for political and economic reasons. These reasons for regional conflict continued, as Fuller illustrates, after the Protestants’ revolt and Russia’s emergence as a new Byzantium. Fuller thus dares to suggest that overcoming the twenty-first-century anti-Western animosities of Middle Eastern Muslims requires an honest and historically informed assessment of economic and political inequities that moves us beyond a fixation on religious issues. This exceptional inquiry finally sustains a quite specific—and controversial—set of recommendations for reframing American foreign policy. --Bryce Christensen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (August 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031604119X
  • ASIN: B005M4H5SY
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,230,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I first became smitten with the Middle East at age 16 while reading National Geographic magazines and being enticed by the exotic landscapes, the culture, and the crazy shapes of the Arabic language that I decided I had to learn. I studied a lot about the Middle East, and Russia, when I was in university. I always expected to become an academic, but my draft board deemed otherwise; I was drafted and sent into intelligence work. I had an extraordinary chance to learn about the Middle East first hand while serving as a CIA operations officer all over--Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Hong Kong for two decades. It was an education in itself, and a chance to travel and learn a lot of languages, which I loved.

I then "came in from the cold" and was appointed a top analyst at CIA for global forecasting. After 25 years with the US government I felt it was time to leave; I joined a major West Coast think tank (RAND)in California (no, nothing to do with Ayn Rand) where I was a senior political scientist. In 2004 I moved to Canada and, among other things, am now an adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. I never lost my interest in Islam, the Middle East and Asia and ended up writing many books on the subject --on Islamic fundamentalism, Shi'ite Islam, and Arab, Turkish, Kurdish and Persian politics. By now they amount to nearly a dozen books; my more recent ones include the well-received "The Future of Political Islam," and later the provocative "A World Without Islam."

My last book was a personal memoir, "Three Truths and a Lie." It's a painfully personal book about our Korean son, adopted at age one who sadly died of crack cocaine at age 21. Although it's a sad tale, many people have commented that they find it uplifting as well, which is personally very gratifying. I'm about to publish a new book, "Turkey and the Arab Spring" in April 2014 And I'm at work on a novel--yes, you guessed it-- about the Middle East.

I currently live in a small town in the Vancouver BC area; when I can break away from my desk I like to spend time on community issues dealing with with bears, eagles, and salmon. And mountain biking is good for the soul.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Graham Fuller has a long history in the intelligence communities (27 years) and may be most famous for being the man behind the idea that led to the whole "Iran-Contra" affair (and an ironic mis-quote in Chapter 12 when he quotes Reagan as calling the Afghan mujahideen the "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers" when he said that of the Nicaraguan Contras). This book is a response to The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington. Fuller makes repeated references to Huntington's most famous line from the book: "The bloody borders of Islam." Fuller contends that it is not Islam vs. the World but rather East vs. West.

I cannot disagree with Fuller's ultimate thesis - the East and the West are two civilizations (cultures, if you prefer) that are in tension with one another. That tension has been there since before Christ. The Roman Era exacerbated the problem by having two capitols - Rome and Constantinople. The church divided along that axis and the Roman Catholic (Latin) Church and the Greek Orthodox churches fought, or at least bickered, as often as not. The rise of Islam rose in the Orthodox sphere and largely assumed their anti-Western stance.

Fuller presents a compelling case and I cannot help but agree with almost everything he says, but I will point out a few troubling issues:

-In Chapter Three he notes that the beginning of East/West struggles begin with Alexander the Great's invasion of Persia in 334 B.C. Funny, I would have thought that he would have chosen events such as the Persian domination of Greek city states in modern Turkey and the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 B.C.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What if Islam had never arisen? Would we still have East-West tensions? Terrorism? Would "they" still hate America? Would a 9-11 have been possible? The answer, according to author Graham Fuller is, most probably yes. He doesn't arrive at this conclusion lightly, but after an amazing, broad and enlightening study of history. After tracing the origins and relationships of the three Abrahamic religions, he studies the Roman Empire, its breakup into Eastern and Western Empires, and the subsequent splitting of the church into Eastern and Western churches.

There's a long history of mutual suspicion and hatred between East and West; throw in religion and the mix becomes incendiary, especially when religion is joined to the state, any state, and becomes a vehicle for state control. A painful look at the Crusades and their still powerful reverberations follows. The author then takes a hard look at the world of Islamic culture, once pre-eminent, then in a steep decline, now trying to revive its former glory. There's a lot more in the book as well.

Finally, after this exhaustive survey, Fuller takes a look at current American policies in the Islamic world and sees much to be questioned. This may be the hardest part of the book for some readers, for he finds much of American policy counter-productive, pouring kerosene on the flames of local and regional grievances.

Author Graham Fuller is a good writer, who makes his vast scholarship easily accessible. It's not light reading but it's tremendously enlightening. You may not agree with everything he says, but you will learn more than you ever expected to know. I recommend this one highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mr. Fuller explores much of Islamic history and describes many of the geohistorical undercurrents tugging at the events of today in his book 'A World Without Islam.' Mr. Fuller is a former CIA analyst, and he does a pretty good job of organizing his material and introducing other opinions, such as quotes from Robert Kaplan, a talented and well traveled journalist. The overall premise is how similar the world would be today with or without Islam, tensions between the Middle East and the West, or mistrust between Russia and the West would still exist, and obviously history itself would be very different, the zero being a rather useful digit.
'A World Without Islam' is a timely work, as the amount of Islamophobia in the media has ratcheted up significantly since 9/11. The author frequently cites the events of 2001 and points out that they may have occurred anyway due to U.S. policies that have always been self-serving, be it propping up despotic regimes in order to continue pumping oil, deposing democratically elected leaders (Iran 1953), stationing troops on sacred ground such as Saudi Arabia, or invading Muslim countries.
Mr. Fuller explains that tensions between the U.S. and Russia arise primarily from Eastern Orthodoxy versus Catholicism, the former having more in common with Islam, hence Russia's recent realignment with states like Iran since the demise of the atheistic Communist state. The mosque onion dome was borrowed from Eastern Orthodox architecture, and China contains some twenty million Muslims, a large portion of whom are currently being persecuted, resettled, and diluted by bringing in millions of Han Chinese to displace them.
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