Top critical review
21 people found this helpful
Brilliant, unbiased and convincing
on October 4, 2007
...and I still only gave it three stars because it is one heck of a read. Maybe history is that dry but I had to really force myself through the pages.
On the other hand this book has changed the way I look at Islam and Arabism. It is profound and hard to refute. Even one of my most appreciated scholars, Edward Said, has found some well-documented criticism that I eventually succumbed to.
Many of my friends or acquaintances are Arabs and Muslims. I have always perceived their history through the eyes of apologist Karen Armstrong or the more serious thinkers of Said's caliber. But there is another side to the story and as empires go, it is ugly.
I find it hard to comment on all the details but eventually a picture emerges that is substantially critical without being slanderously Islamophobic. Maybe it is the dry presentation, devoid of much emotion which respected me as a reader to form my own opinion. Sometimes it reminded me of Noam Chomsky's writing style in works such as the Fateful Triangle which demands much of the reader. If you are looking for some entertaining quips and quotes or ravaging drama you probably will be disappointed.
Karsh should be taken with a grain of salt. His other works have received much criticism and his pro-Israeli bias leaves a bitter aftertaste. However, since this review is about this particular book I can only recommend it as a must-read, a far cry from the polemics that permeate the current discourse.