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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 ›
In 1089 Hassan-i Sabbah, a Persian Ismaili, who established Alamut, a castle just south of the Caspian Sea as the Assassin base, and employed a pattern of terrorism by sending out his fida'i (pl. fidayeen) to commit attacks against Seljuk and Abbasid alike, and is credited with masterminding some 50 assassinations. His dynasty continues in a similar mold, though with less frequent assassinations, expanding to further castle freeholds, eventually becoming a normalized kingdom under Jalal an-Din Hassan (1211-1221) who gives up assassination as a political tool and moved towards reconciliation with Sunni practices. The final link in the chain is his grandson, Rukn al Din Rather than a glorious finale in battle, the Assassin leader reacts to the Mongol Hulegu's demands for dismantling his settlements by appeasement, and in the end Hulegu has him and his followers killed in 1256.
Meanwhile in Syria the cult gains a following around Homs and Aleppo, drawn from other Ismaili offshoots such as Alawites and Druze.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nicely done. Provided me with several historical insights into this disturbing sect of IslamPublished 11 months ago by UHertz
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 on May 21, 2014 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 on February 28, 2014 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
Bernard Lewis is one of the foremost Western scholars on the Middle East, which is alone enough to make Edward Said want to spit in his hat. Read morePublished on April 22, 2012 by Matthew M. Howell