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He has the right background to speak about, and to, both cultures: Born in Afghanistan to an Afghan father and an American mother, Ansary emigrated to the U.S. in his teens and went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He has lived in the U.S. ever since, with trips back to Afghanistan and the Middle East.
I was fascinated by the book's discussion of Islam's early years in the 7th century, the discussion of Islamic reform movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the compassionate overview of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East.
For that long-running disaster Ansary assigns blame and plenty to everyone involved, and I mean everyone -- including the British, the Americans, the Russians, and the Saudis. And that's just for starters.
His evaluation of the Six Day War in 1967 is eye-opening; he argues that it was a military triumph in the short term but did more harm than good to Israel in the long term.
I was hungry for a longer discussion of the meaning and impact of 9/11 from an Islamic perspective, and I hope the author will do that in some other publication. That aside, this is the perfect book for readers wanting a readable, friendly, big-picture story of how Islam came to be and the religious and cultural frameworks that shape its view of world history.
We desperately need more informed, compassionate, and wise writing of this nature from Mr. Ansary, who has lived in both worlds and can help each understand the other.Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes OverviewWe in the west share a common narrative of world history-that runs from the Nile Valley and Mesopotomia, through Greece and Rome and the French Revolution, to the rise of the secular state and the triumph of democracy. But our story largely omits a whole civilization that until quite recently saw itself at the center of world history, and whose citizens shared an entirely different narrative for a thousand years.In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary tells the rich story of world history as the Islamic world saw it, from the time of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. He clarifies why our civilizations grew up oblivious to each other, what happened when they intersected, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europe-a place it long perceived as primitive and disorganized-had somehow hijacked destiny. Entertaining and enlightening, Destiny Disrupted also offers a vital perspective on current conflicts.
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