Few historians end up as historical actors in their own right, but Bernard Lewis has both witnessed and participated in some of the key events of the last century. When we think of the Middle East, we see it in terms that he defined and articulated.
In this exceptional memoir he shares stories of his wartime service in London and Cairo, decrypting intercepts for MI6, with sometimes unexpected consequences. After the war, he was the first Western scholar ever invited into the Ottoman archives in Istanbul. He coined the term “clash of civilizations” in the 1950s, when no one imagined that political Islam would one day eclipse communism. A brilliant raconteur with an extraordinary gift for languages (he mastered 13), he regales us with tales of memorable encounters with Edward Kennedy, the Shah of Iran, Golda Meir, and Pope John Paul II, among many others.
September 11 catapulted him onto the world stage as his seminal books What Went Wrong? and Crisis of Islam leaped onto bestseller lists. In his first major book since the second Iraq war, Lewis describes how - contrary to popular fiction - he opposed the war and reveals his exchanges with the Bush administration outlining his far greater concerns about Iran. For more than half a century, Bernard Lewis has taken influential and controversial positions on contemporary politics and on the politics of academe. A man of towering intellect and erudition, he writes with the flair of Toynbee or Gibbon, only he has seen more and is much funnier.
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Can't Get Enough of the Book
This book is among the best of the numerous Audible books I own.
This is a frank, honest and revealing story about the life of the great historian, Bernard Lewis. I have been fascinated by Lewis' other books on the Middle East, but this one brings together all of them, while putting them in perspective. I loved hearing about every aspect of Lewis' personal development and the changes that he has undergone.
There is really only one character and that is Bernard Lewis. I kept feeling that the narrator was in fact Lewis himself. Lister's performance was so perfect. His English, French and Italian could not be better.
A Full Life!
I most highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to understand the triumph, joy and tribulations of a great historian. The book is forthright and places the pursuit of truth at the forefront of scholarship, no matter the personal consequences. Audible, you've done it again!
- Sanford H.
What a jerk!
There's a lot I would change about the author.
Vow that I wouldn't become such a self-congratulatory old fart.
Jeez, you'd think that someone as smart as Bernard Lewis--who is very smart, and whose work I admire--would have the sense not to present himself in such an unfavorable light. Where the reader would like an account of what he said in his various publications, he just talks about how they were received and how many languages they were translated into. And this following his self-congratulatory stories about his academic career, starting with his ultra-First degree, his mastery of innumerable difficult non-indoeuropean languages, his meetings with Famous People, his various prizes, and his current affair with his fourth trophy woman.
This guy is so besotted with himself that he just doesn't get how bad he's made himself look. I've followed his work and agree which much of what he says. E.g I agree that Said is a appalling charletan. Yes. But if you want that real story about "orientalism" read Robert Irwin, _That Dangerous Knowledge_. Lewis is a real disappointment.
- H. Baber