- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586486063
- ISBN-13: 978-1586486068
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes 1st Edition
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"Tamim Ansary has written a truely superb history of the Islamic world. His excellent analysis provides the reader with an insightful understanding of how that world and its people were shaped by events. This is a must read for all those who want to understand the evolution of a significant global society and how it has interacted with the rest of the worl
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.”
“A lively, thorough and accessible survey of the history of Islam (both the religion and its political dimension) that explores many of the disconnects between Islam and the West.”
San Francisco Chronicle
"A must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the Islamic world. But the book is more than just a litany of past events. It is also an indispensable guide to understanding the political debates and conflicts of today, from 9/11 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the Somali pirates to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. As Ansary writes in his conclusion, "The conflict wracking the modern world is not, I think, best understood as a 'clash of civilizations.' ... It's better understood as the friction generated by two mismatched world histories intersecting."
“Never apologist in tone, meticulously researched and balanced, often amusing but never glib, Destiny Disrupted is ultimately a gripping drama that pulls the reader into great, seminal events of world history, a book which offers a wealth of knowledge and insight to any reader who wants to understand the movements and events behind the modern-day hostilities wracking Western and Islamic societies.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“If you want to put today's headlines about jihadist suicide bombings into the much larger context of history, you'd be well advised to settle in with Destiny Disrupted. It's the story of a civilization that suddenly found itself upended by strangers and now wants to put itself right. And if author Ansary stops short of calling the result a clash of civilizations, he feels free to call it two one-sided views of world history. His book is a valuable tool for opening up a view of the other side.”
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Top customer reviews
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. Yes - Islam is a religion; yes, it is a civilization (an umma), and yes it is an 'ism' that prescribes a social and moral framework. As the author tells it however it is also a story, interrupted by the forces of industrialization, of nationalism, and constitutionalism. It is the story of how the Prophet and his followers set out on a great social project - to set up a Dar al-Islam, an oasis of peace, a Khalifate where right living, morally upstanding people would have no fear and where violence would not rule. It is also the tragic tale of how the project has foundered as it was battered by internal strife and external factors outside its control.
Even as a person living amid this stream of history much ignored in the popular conscious, I was surprised how many facts I learned from it. The roots of modern phenomenon like the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Aligarh and Deoband movements, or on the philosophies of Ataturk, Jinnah, and others' with their Secular Modernism were all news to me.
I appreciated that he halted his story for the most part by telling of the Six Day War in 1967 and its aftermath, leading all the way to the two Gulf Wars and 9/11. He does speak of the current state of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Algeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but in passing; as he puts it, events after 9/11 haven't been "mulched" enough for synthesis, and I agree. The same goes for the "Arab Spring" and recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and so on, which were actually about to unfold as this book went to press.
As far as the book goes, it loses one star only because of the writing style, which is replete with modern idiom and light-weight/ informal words like "guys" and such. I suppose I prefer my histories to be more formal!
In the final analysis, this is a must-read, especially for anyone who like me is tired of this narrative of the "Clash of Civilizations" or "West and East" (or worse, over-simplified Democracy vs Fundamentalism cage match narrative from the American Neo-con camp!). It is a succinct (perhaps too succinct in parts) introduction to the story and the philosophy of Islam.