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Hailed as "the doyen of Middle Eastern studies" in The New York Times Book Review, Bernard Lewis stands at the height of his field. "To read Mr. Lewis," wrote Fouad Ajami in The Wall Street Journal, "is to be taken through a treacherous terrain by the coolest and most reassuring of guides. You are in the hands of the Islamic world's foremost living historian." Now this sure-handed guide takes us through treacherous terrain indeed--the events of 1492, a year laden with epic events and riven by political debate.
With elegance and erudition, Lewis explores that climactic year as a clash of civilizations--a clash not only of the New World and the Old, but also of Christendom and Islam, of Europe and the rest. In the same year that Columbus set sail across the Atlantic, he reminds us, the Spanish monarchy captured Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the peninsula, and also expelled the Jews. Lewis uses these three epochal events to explore the nature of the European-Islamic conflict, placing the voyages of discovery in a striking new context. He traces Christian Europe's path from being a primitive backwater on the edges of the vast, cosmopolitan Caliphate, through the heightening rivalry of the two religions, to the triumph of the West over Islam, examining the factors behind their changing fortunes and cultural qualities.
Balanced and insightful, this far-reaching discussion of the encounters between Islam, the West, and the globe provides a new understanding of the distant events that gave shape to the modern world.
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.01" Width: 5.34" Height: 0.29"
Weight: 0.25 lbs.
Release Date Jan 18, 1996
Publisher Oxford University Press
Availability 67 units.
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|The clash of civilizations in 1492 Jul 10, 2007|
|Lewis is the acknowledged dean of Middle Eastern historians. The three essays included in this volume begin as a meditation on the year 1492, the year of Columbus' discovery of America, of the final Christian reconquest of Granada, and of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Lewis presents a picture of Islamic Civilization and Christian civilization in conflict, with the Jews caught in between. He points to Islam as having been the first truly global civilization , distinguished from the great civilizations of India and China which were largely confined to their particular areas of the world. He focuses on what is in effect a turning point moment that at which Islam is about to go into global decline, and the upstart Christian West is about to conquer the world. He explains how technical means, the West's adaptation of gunpowder and the printing press were vital in the process of conquest. He also explains how Islam failed to adapt and meet the challenge. |
Lewis' middle chapter is devoted to the various expulsions of the Jews. He shows how their difficult situation in Western lands became horrifying worse with the Crusades. And how the Turkish Empire became for a considerable group a land of refuge.
This work is written with a kind of sweeping and masterful grace. There is a sense that behind each line is a world of knowledge and understanding, a lifetime of study in the field.
Here is an example of Lewis' writing on one key point of the book.
" In all of this, as in much else, the discovery of America, for better for worse, was a turning point in human history and an essential part of the transition to a modernity that began in Europe and was carried all over the world by European discoverers, conquerors, missionaries, colonists, and , let us add, refugees.The mines of the New World gave European Christendom gold and silver to finance its trade, its wars and its inventions. The fields and plantations of the Americas gave it new resources and commodities and enabled Europeans, for the first time, to trade with the Muslims and others as equals, and ultimately, as superiors. And the very encounter with strange lands and peoples, unknown to history and scripture alike, contributed mightily to the breaking of intellectual molds and the freeing of the human mind and spirit."
Lewis concludes with a defense of Western civilization which he well recognizes the historical faults and failings of. In responding to the charges that it has been the source of the Evils of Imperalism, Racism and Sexism he points out that these terms are of Western origin, and that the West did not invent them but rather identified, related to them and tried to correct them. He writes, "If , to borrow a phrase Western culture does indeed "go",imperialism, sexism and racism will not go with it. More likely casualties will be the freedom to denounce them and the effort to end them."
|Excellent historical review of the clash between Muslims and Christains and Jews Jan 21, 2007|
|The author is an expert on Muslim history and this short book is an essential primer for anyone wanting to understand Muslim history and how it relates to Europe and the west. Helps us understand a little where the Muslims are "coming from" and maybe a little why they feel the way they do.|
|Truth telling Jan 18, 2007|
|Most of the media treat us like morons. A state of war requires politicians to be creative with the truth and fanatics to lie outright. Bernard Lewis is one of those rare writers who combines erudition with an obvious respect for the intelligence of the lay reader. To be properly informed citizens we need the truth in all of its complexity. Bernard Lewis gives it to us, as far as he can reasonably ascertain it, in a highly readable fashion. Reading his work shows us that nothing much has changed except our capacity to hurt each other on a much grander scale than ever before balanced by our capacity to understand each other across cultural divides on an equally grand scale. I recommend this work to anybody interested in making sense of out present geoppolitical predicament.|
|A great intro or primer to Islamic Studies Apr 11, 2005|
|This booklet (a compilation of three speeches given by the author) is a fast and easy read about the state of 3 world cultures (Islam, Jewdaism, Christianity) around 1492 (especially as seen in the Iberian peninsula - Spain, and subsequent world exploration). |
It is a great intro (primer) to understanding how the Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures affected each other and evolved in the late 15th century and into the 16th century. The analysis of how advanced the Muslim culture was and why it stopped advancing and making significant discoveries post-1492 is the gem of this treatise.
Bernard Lewis, a widely read British historian and a Near Eastern Studies Emeritus professor at Princeton University, has written over 20 books about the Muslim world and history of Islam.
I would recommend this for anyone wanting to understand the historical context of the start of deterioration and decline of Muslim influence on world events, and the stagnation of Muslim technical and cultural advancements.
The author's conclusion is that today's cultural divide between the West and the Islam world are grounded in the historical, cultural, and social developments of late 15th century. This book offers very little if any religious theological analysis.
|Islamic Civilization outflanked Jan 27, 2003|
|Bernard Lewis the world's leading authorities on the Middle East discusses the eclipse of the Middle East in their last three centuries in power and how their decline is still felt to this day. For many centuries, the world of Islam was in the forefront of human achievement--the foremost military and economic power in the world, the leader in the arts and sciences of civilization. Christian Europe, a remote land beyond its northwestern frontier, was seen as an outer darkness of barbarism and unbelief from which there was nothing to learn or to fear. And then everything changed, as the previously despised West won victory after victory, first in the battlefield and the marketplace, then in almost every aspect of public and even private life. In his three essays Conquest, Expulsion, Discovery he examines how the Islamic world was transgressed from conquers to conquered. Lewis bases the expansion on three significant areas weaponry; education and navigation. |
The Europeans gained significant advances in the field of weaponry; with the discovery of gun powder in the Far East. The Christian traders bypassed the middle east and bought this product home where it was adapted to deadly fire arms.
In 1492 the Spanish monarchs captured Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the peninsula, and also expelled the Jews. The Jews got with them the knowledge of printing; but the rulers fearful of desecration allowed the Jews to publish books in any language except Arabic. This caused a significant regression in the transfer of knowledge to the masses; which the West took the maximum gain of.
Navigation was a major contributor for the economic development of Europe. The European ships were built for the Atlantic and were therefore bigger and stronger than those of the Muslims , built for the Mediterranean. The muslims also had the Atlantic coastline along Morocco. One obvious answer for the absence of Atlantic faring muslim ships were for the lack of ports on the Atlantic and also Morocco had the Atlantic to them selves in comparison the Europeans had to compete with one another. The sea faring enabled the West to gain the riches from America and colonize it.
Islamic civilization was eventually overshadowed by the achievements of European Christendom, and much of the Muslim world came under the direct or indirect domination of the West.
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