A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History (Modern Library Classics)

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9780375758379: A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History (Modern Library Classics)

In times of war and in peace, from the earliest days of the Roman Empire to our own, Westerners have traveled to the lands of the Middle East, bringing back accounts of their adventures and impressions. But it was never a one-way journey. In this spirited collection of Western views of the Middle East and Middle Eastern views of the West, Bernard Lewis gives us a rich overview of two thousand years of commerce, diplomacy, war and exploration. We hear from Napoleon, St. Augustine, T. E. Lawrence, Karl Marx and Ibn Khaldun. We peer into Queen Elizabeth's business correspondence, strike oil with Freya Stark and follow the footsteps of Mark Twain and Ibn Battuta, the Marco Polo of the East. This book is a delight, a treasury of stories drawn not only from letters, diaries and histories, but also from unpublished archives and previously untranslated accounts.

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Review:

Drawing on a long career of reading and reflection, the distinguished Middle East historian Bernard Lewis here gathers documents that illuminate more than two millennia of interactions between the Arab and European worlds--encounters laden with misunderstanding and prejudice on both sides. Four major phases mark this long period, Lewis writes: the Hellenization of the Arab world after the conquests of Alexander the Great; the expansion of the Roman empire into the region; the rise of Christianity; and, finally, the supremacy of Islam. These four cataclysmic changes, he writes, served to "obliterate the religions, the cultures, the languages and, to a large extent, even the nations of the ancient Middle East," replacing them with a faith and a culture that crossed national lines.

The Europeans who encountered the Arab world brought home wildly inaccurate stories of these supposedly savage people. Lewis quotes a Byzantine scribe, for instance, who reported that the Arabs worshiped Aphrodite, and the Anglo-American leader Alexander Hamilton, who wrote disdainfully of "Asiatic despotism and voluptuousness." Arab observers returned the sentiment, decrying what they perceived to be European indolence and lack of religious conviction, and holding that the farther north one traveled, the greater the "stupidity, grossness, and brutishness" one encountered.

Lewis's intriguing anthology provides ample evidence that these misapprehensions of long ago linger today, as the descendants of "Franks" and "Saracens" continue to grapple with one another for regional supremacy. Anyone seeking a greater understanding of the Middle Eastern past and present will benefit from reading his pages. --Gregory McNamee

From the Back Cover:

"A magnificent collection that lays out the history of the Middle East like no other book before it. The sheer wonder of this book cannot be overstated."
-- Denver Rocky Mountain News

"History in the hands of a master historian is an exquisite thing."
-- The Charlotte Observer

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 201 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In times of war and in peace, from the earliest days of the Roman Empire to our own, Westerners have traveled to the lands of the Middle East, bringing back accounts of their adventures and impressions. But it was never a one-way journey. In this spirited collection of Western views of the Middle East and Middle Eastern views of the West, Bernard Lewis gives us a rich overview of two thousand years of commerce, diplomacy, war and exploration. We hear from Napoleon, St. Augustine, T. E. Lawrence, Karl Marx and Ibn Khaldun. We peer into Queen Elizabeth s business correspondence, strike oil with Freya Stark and follow the footsteps of Mark Twain and Ibn Battuta, the Marco Polo of the East. This book is a delight, a treasury of stories drawn not only from letters, diaries and histories, but also from unpublished archives and previously untranslated accounts. Bookseller Inventory # AAR9780375758379

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 201 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In times of war and in peace, from the earliest days of the Roman Empire to our own, Westerners have traveled to the lands of the Middle East, bringing back accounts of their adventures and impressions. But it was never a one-way journey. In this spirited collection of Western views of the Middle East and Middle Eastern views of the West, Bernard Lewis gives us a rich overview of two thousand years of commerce, diplomacy, war and exploration. We hear from Napoleon, St. Augustine, T. E. Lawrence, Karl Marx and Ibn Khaldun. We peer into Queen Elizabeth s business correspondence, strike oil with Freya Stark and follow the footsteps of Mark Twain and Ibn Battuta, the Marco Polo of the East. This book is a delight, a treasury of stories drawn not only from letters, diaries and histories, but also from unpublished archives and previously untranslated accounts. Bookseller Inventory # AAR9780375758379

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