Synopses & Reviews
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of What Went Wrong? tells the story of his extraordinary life
After September 11, Americans who had never given much thought to the Middle East turned to Bernard Lewis for an explanation, catapulting What Went Wrong? and later Crisis of Islam to become number one bestsellers. He was the first to warn of a coming "clash of civilizations," a term he coined in 1957, and has led an amazing life, as much a political actor as a scholar of the Middle East. In this witty memoir he reflects on the events that have transformed the region since World War II, up through the Arab Spring.
A pathbreaking scholar with command of a dozen languages, Lewis has advised American presidents and dined with politicians from the shah of Iran to the pope. Over the years, he had tea at Buckingham Palace, befriended Golda Meir, and briefed politicians from Ted Kennedy to Dick Cheney. No stranger to controversy, he pulls no punches in his blunt criticism of those who see him as the intellectual progenitor of the Iraq war. Like America’s other great historian-statesmen Arthur Schlesinger and Henry Kissinger, he is a figure of towering intellect and a world-class raconteur, which makes Notes on a Century essential reading for anyone who cares about the fate of the Middle East.
"Lewis, the 95-year-old dean of Middle Eastern studies, has never been one to back down from a fight. The Princeton professor has been lionized for his great erudition and savaged for what critics see as profoundly simplistic and solipsistic commentary on modern events and for adhering to outdated methods and assumptions. Now he revisits forgotten grievances, settles old scores, and spins yarns of his war years as one would with one's grandchildren. Suffused with a possibly ironic superciliousness (he talks of how his grandfather 'begat' his progeny), his memoir seems to lack all sense of proportion, casting equally polemical and venomous brickbats at the student who consulted him but didn't include him in his acknowledgments as at the French court that fined him for casting doubt on the Armenian genocide, at the time a major international incident. He says he was displeased with the invasion of Iraq, thinking that Iran would have been the more appropriate target. An intellectual of Lewis's stature can, at this stage of his life, be forgiven for publishing such a confused, meandering, and self-serving account of his own career, but it is not clear why anyone should want to read it. Agent: Peter Bernstein, Peter Bernstein Literary." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The memoirs of the preeminent historian of the Middle East and bestselling author of What Went Wrong?
Few historians end up as major historical actors in their own right. At the age of 96, Bernard Lewis has both witnessed and participated in some of the key events of the last century, from his time working for MI6 in London and throughout the Middle East during World War II to his sudden transformation into a sought-after interpreter of the Middle East after September 11. When we think of the Middle East, we think of it in terms that he defined and articulated.
A brilliant storyteller with an extraordinary gift for languages, Lewis regales us with tales of memorable encounters with Edward Kennedy, the Shah of Iran, Golda Meir, Muammar Qaddafi, Pope John Paul II, King Hussein, and Dick Cheney, among many others. Witty, lively, and movingly written, this exceptional memoir offers an intimate look at the key events of the twentieth century through the eyes of one of the most vital historians of our time.
About the Author
Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University, the author of many books, and is internationally recognized as the greatest historian of the Middle East.
Buntzie Ellis Churchill served for twenty-three years as president of the World Affairs Council of Philadephia and for a decade hosted the daily radio show World Views.