Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Very Enlightening. Highly recommended.
on January 2, 2015
I came to this book because it was quoted in a column by Fareed Zakaria. I am glad I did. Although I have long been interested in history of the region, I must admit that I was under informed, and this book was a very enlightening primer. The overall message is wonderfully positive. Karabell shows a historical record that demonstrates (perhaps against current conventional wisdom) that Muslims, Christians, and Jews are not fated to fight each other. Or, more realistically, that they have not historically fought each other any more than they have fought amongst themselves. The lessons are:
a) By and large, it's not the religions differences between those faiths that have caused the strife which ignites periodically between them.
b) Strife between these religious groups have been the exception rather than the rule. For most of history, these groups have managed to coexist and cooperate.
Karabell exposes his thesis without preaching, while unfurling a detailed historic tapestry, weaving historical characters to general ethnological descriptions. It is a well balanced, well written book, which leads you to a "cautiously optimistic" conclusion, while leaving the reader plenty of space for his/her own reflection.