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Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes Paperback – April 27, 2010
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The Amazon Book Review
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“Reading [Tom] Friedman, I was motivated to learn more about the Muslim view of world history. I found a remarkable guide in Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted.”
Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
“Ansary has written an informative and thoroughly engaging look at the past, present and future of Islam. With his seamless and charming prose, he challenges conventional wisdom and appeals for a fuller understanding of how Islam and the world at large have shaped each other. And that makes this book, in this uneasy, contentious post 9/11 world, a must-read.”
Dave Eggers, TheRumpus.net
“I’m in the middle of Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes, and it’s incredibly illuminating. Ansary pretty much covers the entire history of Islam in an incredibly readable and lucid way. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know. Especially when people are looking for a comprehensive-but-approachable way to look at world history through the lens of Islam, there’s no better book.”
San Francisco Chronicle
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
David Frum’s FrumForum, August 16, 2010
“An amusing and anecdotal survey of Islamic history”
San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 2011
“[The fire] was roaring nicely, and I was seated not far from it, reading "Destiny Disrupted" by Tamim Ansary, which is the perfect book for someone who knows hardly anything about the history of the Muslim world and feels that, really, what with things the way they are, a little more attention to detail would be useful. It's one of those "fascinating new fact every paragraph" books. Would you like to know how the Shiite-Sunni schism happened? It's all here. Rumi the poet? He's here. Empires, sultanates, wars, atrocities, cities of great beauty now lost forever, the whole deal. Even the chapters on theology are enjoyable, and I'm not big on the minutiae of belief systems.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
He has the right background to speak about, and to, both cultures: Born in Afghanistan to an Afghan father and an American mother, Ansary emigrated to the U.S. in his teens and went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He has lived in the U.S. ever since, with trips back to Afghanistan and the Middle East.
I was fascinated by the book's discussion of Islam's early years in the 7th century, the discussion of Islamic reform movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the compassionate overview of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East.
For that long-running disaster Ansary assigns blame and plenty to everyone involved, and I mean everyone -- including the British, the Americans, the Russians, and the Saudis. And that's just for starters.
His evaluation of the Six Day War in 1967 is eye-opening; he argues that it was a military triumph in the short term but did more harm than good to Israel in the long term.
I was hungry for a longer discussion of the meaning and impact of 9/11 from an Islamic perspective, and I hope the author will do that in some other publication. That aside, this is the perfect book for readers wanting a readable, friendly, big-picture story of how Islam came to be and the religious and cultural frameworks that shape its view of world history.
We desperately need more informed, compassionate, and wise writing of this nature from Mr. Ansary, who has lived in both worlds and can help each understand the other.
The European outline of history has always been the westward succession of leadership, from Greece to Rome to northern Europe to America, a viewpoint of manifest destiny that has justified much imperialism and jingoism. An Islamic history, Ansary says, would be an expansion from a center, rather like ripples spreading from the event of the Hijra in 622 AD, an expansion that should have been destined to encompass the whole world. For the first thousand years of this history, it was perfectly plausible for the most educated classes of Islamic societies to maintain such a viewpoint, Ansary maintains. But then that 'destiny' was disrupted by the unforeseen economic and technological revolutions of the rude barbarians of Europe. Such a perception of history, as a calamitous disruption of the proper order of things, underlies the resentment and hostility of Muslims throughout the Middle World toward the West.
Ansary writes very simply. His prose would pass muster for a high school textbook. But his simplicity is eloquent and lucid.Read more ›
Most histories I've read, whether it be H. G. Wells' Short History of the World/ Outline of World History, or the book I read recently titled A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years suffer from the sin of Euro-centrism (like most standard world maps, I might add). For the period from just before the birth of Christ to the 'end of history' announced by Fukuyama at the end of the Cold War, they focus on first the Roman Empire, then its decline, and then the continent of Europe with brief forays into Asia Minor and the Levant. These histories tend to oversimplify things like the Hun or Mongol invasions as "barbarians coming from the East", as though these tribes appeared in the middle of nowhere fully formed and attacked "civilization".
This is why Tamim Ansary's book is a refreshing departure. He focuses on the other world history - the history of first Islam, beginning with the life of the Prophet Mohammed, the Khalifate(s) that followed and then the fortunes and misfortunes of the Eastern Empire centered on Istanbul and its inheritance.
I found it telling that rather than treating Islam (in his words) as part of a set also containing Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism etc, OR as part of a set also containing Communism, Capitalism, Socialism etc, OR as part of a set of civilizations - Roman, Western, Eastern, Indian, Chinese etc, he treats it as another history, whose jagged edges fit into the Europe-centered world history that most of us learnt in school.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Ansary writes in a light and fun style that makes the book an easy read. Read morePublished 3 days ago by SMS
There's a lot to learn in the well-written story of the origins and development of Islam, particularly when viewed through an different lens than is often the case. Read morePublished 4 days ago by P D Val de Fleur
So well written that a book with an incredible amount of history is an easy read. I learned so much about the Muslim world that I never knew before.Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
Good book on Islamist view of history
"Destiny interrupted" is a good phase to sum it up. He doesn't understand Christianity but it gives you a good insight on how Muslims... Read more
If you are still trying to figure out our terrorist filled world, read this. Don't skip the early bits that may seem unimportant because they figure in the later history. Read morePublished 10 days ago by N. L. Fimbel
Very informative in a story telling way! If you enjoy thinking about historical people as humans who had real lives just like us, then buy it! Read morePublished 17 days ago by The Cuban Macaw
Everyone needs to read this book which offers a perspective on history from the viewpoint of Islam and the Islamic countries and cultures. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Melinda L. Crawford