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In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Landsby Martin Gilbert
Synopses & Reviews
The relationship between Jews and Muslims has been a flashpoint that affects stability in the Middle East and has consequences around the globe. In this absorbing and eloquent book Martin Gilbert challenges the standard media portrayal and presents a fascinating account of hope, opportunity, fear, and terror that have characterized these two peoples through the 1,400 years of their intertwined history.
Harking back to the Biblical story of Ishmael and Isaac, Gilbert takes the reader from the origins of the fraught relationship—the refusal of Medinas Jews to accept Mohammed as a prophet—through the ages of the Crusader reconquest of the Holy Land and the great Muslim sultanates to the present day. He explores the impact of Zionism in the first half of the twentieth century, the clash of nationalisms during the Second World War, the mass expulsions and exodus of 800,000 Jews from Muslim lands following the birth of Israel, the Six-Day War and its aftermath, and the political sensitivities of the current Middle East.
In Ishmaels House sheds light on a time of prosperity and opportunity for Jews in Muslim lands stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan, with many instances of Muslim openness, support, and courage. Drawing on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources, Gilbert uses archived material, poems, letters, memoirs, and personal testimony to uncover the human voice of this centuries-old conflict. Ultimately Gilberts moving account of mutual tolerance between Muslims and Jews provides a perspective on current events and a template for the future.
"In this epic examination, celebrated historian Gilbert (the six-volume biography of Winston Churchill) explores the evolution of Judaism and Islam through a lens of Middle Eastern stability. Islam upholds some of Judaism's practices, like strict dietary laws, circumcision, and multiple prayers daily, and followers of both religions have historically banded together during holy wars in opposition to Christianity. Yet early relations between Jews and Muslims were often precarious, and the treatment Jews received was often dependent on the manner in which the Islamic leader at the time interpreted 'the two extremes of protection and intolerance,' a conflict that Gilbert believes 'has defined the Muslim-Jewish relationship to this day.' Indeed, under the rule of the second Caliph, Jews volunteered as soldiers and guides and offered provisions for their Muslim allies, whereas under the eighth Caliph, Jews and Christians were equally segregated and oppressed. With a comprehensive yet accessible approach, Gilbert scrutinizes the roles that Muslims and Jews have played and continue to play in the Middle East, and the impact of this on the world, unearthing the ongoing struggles these religions have faced over their 1400 years of shared history. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
In this absorbing and eloquent book, Gilbert challenges the standard media portrayal and presents a fascinating account of hope, opportunity, fear, and terror that have characterized these two peoples through the 1,400 years of their intertwined history.
About the Author
Sir Martin Gilbert is the author of more than eighty books, including the six-volume authorized biography of Winston Churchill, the twin histories First World War and Second World War, Israel: A History, The Holocaust, A History of the Twentieth Century in three volumes, and nine pioneering historical atlases, including Atlas of Jewish History and Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. In 1995, he was knighted for services to British history and international relations, and in 2009 he was appointed to the British Governments Iraq War Inquiry. He lives in London.
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