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Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam by [Wheatcroft, Andrew]
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Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Length: 464 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Historian Wheatcroft (The Ottomans) adds another volume to the steadily growing literature on the history of Christian-Muslim relations. Part philosophical treatise, part history and part diatribe, Wheatcroft's study adds little that has not been covered already by more thorough and elegant studies such as F.E. Peters's recent The Monotheists. He offers an overview of the tortured relations between Christianity and Islam in various contexts including the Crusades, Spain, the Middle East and Bosnia. Wheatcroft opens his book with an account of the 1571 battle of Lepanto, where Christians triumphed over the Muslims. Using the theoretical writings of Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and Stephen Greenblatt, Wheatcroft emphasizes that the conflict between the two religions most often devolved into a war of words in which one side used dehumanizing language to describe the other and to thereby sanction war. He helpfully brings his study into the 21st century by examining briefly the religious rhetoric that President Bush and General William Boykin have used to defend the attack on Iraq and other Muslim nations. Unfortunately, Wheatcroft betrays his own ideological position by referring to Muslim terrorists as a "virus" and by defending the Bush administration's positions on the war, thereby diminishing the value the book might have as an objective description of the conflicts between Christianity and Islam.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the roar of skyscrapers collapsing in New York and in the thunder of fusillades in Afghanistan and Iraq, a leading British historian hears echoes of battles fought centuries ago. This timely chronicle amplifies those echoes to show how much ancient animosities pervade the modern conflict between radical Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden and American president George W. Bush. Impelling the Muslim and Christian combatants who crossed swords at Jerusalem and Granada, at Lepanto, Constantinople, and Missolonghi, these ancient hatreds inspired daring innovations in military weaponry and tactics, as well as astonishing enlargements in both faiths' religious demonology. Wheatcroft recounts the clashes of arms--jihad and crusade--in narrative taut and memorable. With rare sophistication, he also traces the perplexing ways religious orthodoxy now reinforced, now checked the political and economic impulses shaping Europe and the Levant. But readers will praise Wheatcroft most for his acute psychological analysis of how Muslim and Christian leaders alike imbued their followers with hostility toward those who adhered to alien creeds. It is this analysis that lends force to the concluding commentary on how President Bush has unwittingly tapped into a very old reservoir of religious enmity with his absolutist rhetoric calling for a "crusade" against the terrorist evil. As a work that interprets today's headlines within a very long chronology, this book will attract a large audience. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1950 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (June 15, 2004)
  • Publication Date: June 15, 2004
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1R4G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #910,627 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By César González Rouco on July 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Wheatcroft's Infidels examines the bloody faultline between Islam and the West. The scope of his book is ambitious: he starts with a tremendous account of the battle of Lepanto in 1571, but then he forgoes the chronology. There are different sections on Andalucia, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Otto-man Empire.You get a bit about the romance of Moorish Spain and some exotic tales from the Crusades.

Andrew Wheatcroft is especially good on the key question of mutual perceptions. His knowledge of the Western representations of Islam in art and literature is impressive. Atrocities were mutual, and Wheatcroft wants to tell us why certain events were remembered better than others; he wishes to find out how we know what we know about the past. The tale is just that: one of difference and enmity and is clearly intended as the final word on the cultural history of the clash of civilizations. His attempt to short-circuit the 'maledicta', the words of pure hate at the heart of the relationship between Islam and the West, through a greater understanding of the history of mutual repulsion should be applauded.

All that said I had the impression that he wanted to cover too broad an issue in a new way. Certainly, he warns that his aim is not to explain why things happened that way, but how they happen, but in my opinion the very choice of some facts supposedly to be relevant implicitly asks for some kind of explanation that in this work is never openly developped.The final result is somehow confusing.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book I wanted to like, and so I'm frankly very disappointed with it, and therefore very negative about it. The idea appealed to me: the author proposed to study the conflict between the worlds of Christianity and Islam, and the circumstances, causes, and consequences of that conflict. The idea, while interesting in concept, has been hopefully mangled in execution.

Wheatcroft very transparently has an agenda, and it's apparent from the word go what it is. After an introductory chapter describing the Battle of Lepanto. The famous question "Why do they hate us?" has for Wheatcroft only one answer: "Because we've been horribly unfair to them." This becomes immediately apparent when he jumps across the first four centuries or so of Islamic conquest of much of the Middle East for a favorite subject for Muslim apologists: the Muslim kingdoms in Spain. He spends most of this part of the book describing the Kingdom of Granada, contrasting what he refers to as Christian "perfidy" with Muslim "convivencia", the term used to describe the Kingdom's tolerance of Christians and Jews.

From there, the author turns to the Balkans. He spends considerable time discussing the various collisions between Muslims and Christians in the region, without of course discussing the fact that the Muslims were invading Christian territory. Other parts of the book deal with more modern subjects, the study finally concluding with a discussion of President Bush and his advisors fighting the War on Terror.

One of the more annoying things the author does in this book is what a friend of mine once referred to as putting sand on the scales.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book. It told me plenty about some of the religious wars between Islam and Christendom. And it emphasized some of the misconceptions each side had about the other. Wheatcroft is especially good at showing some of the incitement used. And he warns us all to be careful about getting carried away with our suspicions and risking unnecessary and counterproductive wars! He wisely urges us to take our language seriously. I agree. We need to stick with truth. And we ought to be careful about provoking others by using strong and misleading language.

Unfortunately, this book does have a problem. It is all well and good to warn folks not to fight. But once one of them breaks the law, and commits assault, robbery, or murder, it is not sufficient to tell that person to be more reasonable. We have to focus on enforcing the law. That is true when nations step out of line as well. We need to concentrate on truth and reality and decide what to do about it. The author cites Lincoln, who appealed to "the better angels of our nature." He would do well to remind us that Lincoln also led us in civil war that was extremely destructive. Wheatcroft also has praise for Teddy Roosevelt, who said it was good to "speak softly and carry a big stick." With all this praise for these two Presidents, I would expect a little more sympathy with those who say we may need to fight some real enemies in the future.

In my opinion, the author has gone overboard to come up with equivalences between anti-Semitic speeches by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir and a few wild comments by American General William Boykin. I think Boykin has been pretty far out of line. And he is indeed in a position of some responsibility.
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