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Monday, May 18, 2009

Destiny Disrupted review

I've now finished Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes, about which I made some provisional comments earlier. I recommend it highly. It's a bit sobering to realize how little so many of us in the West know about the history of Islam. (For instance, I've been surprised to find that Islam's age is a matter of confusion even to some generally well-informed people, with assumptions that it's older than Christianity, or alternatively that it's only 600 or so years old.) I certainly learned a great deal.

Among other things, the book gives a strong sense of just how multifarious Islam is, with multiple and often mutually antagonistic strands that are now playing out, with consequences for the entire world. There's no trace in the book of anything like an apologia for the Taliban, Al Qaeda or Ayatollah Khomeini. But one does get a much better sense of where they and their premodern antecedents came from, which is something we in the West need to know more about.

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