A masterly narrative survey of three centuries, from Alexander’s conquest and empire to the triumph of Rome.
The book begins with the personality and achievements of Alexander the Great, and continues with the military and political violence of the successor-kingdoms that fought over his inheritance.
This era saw many important developments: a shift from the oral to the written; a move from the public to the private and a new individualist ethos; a huge growth in slavery, and therefore a glut of slave-labour which destroyed the incentive to innovate; a growing gap between rich and poor; a growing taste for luxury.
A collection of the most important essays on past and current history by the Western world’s foremost Islamic scholar
Bernard Lewis has charted the great centuries of Islamic power and civilisation but also, in his recent books WHAT WENT WRONG? and THE CRISIS OF ISLAM, Islam’s calamitous and bitter decline. This book collects together his most interesting and significant essays, papers, reviews and lectures.
They range from historical subjects such as religion and politics in Islam and Judaism, the culture and people of Iran, the great mosques of Istanbul, Middle Eastern food and feasts, the Mughals and the Ottomans, the rise and fall of British power in the Middle East and North Africa, Islam and racism – to current history such as the significance of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Includes discussion of the problems of Western historians dealing with the Islamic world.
A timely and definitive narrative history of Israel in the context of the modern Jewish experience and the Middle East. Ideal for anyone seeking to understand the roots of the current conflict in Gaza.
Written by one of Israel’s most notable scholars, this volume provides a breathtaking history of Israel from the origins of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century to the present day.
Anita Shapira’s gripping narrative explores the emergence of Zionism in Europe against the backdrop of relations among Jews, Arabs and Turks, and the earliest pioneer settlements in Palestine under Ottoman rule. Weaving together political, social and cultural developments in Palestine under the British mandate, Shapira creates a tapestry through which to understand the challenges of Israeli nation-building, including mass immigration, shifting cultural norms, the politics of war and world diplomacy, and the creation of democratic institutions and a civil society. References to contemporary diaries, memoirs and literature bring a human dimension to the story of Israel, from its declaration of independence in 1948 through successive decades of waging war, negotiating peace, and building a modern state with a vibrant society and culture.
Based on archival sources and the most up-to-date scholarly research, this authoritative history is a must-read for anyone with a passionate interest in Israel and the Middle East. ISRAEL: A HISTORY will be the gold standard in the field for years to come.
Buddhism is a faith that commands over 100 million followers throughout the world. Buddha stands with Christ, Confucius and Mohammed as someone who revolutionized the religious ideas of his time to advocate a new way of living.
All that is known about Buddha comes from a collection of ancient writings that fuse history, biography and myth. Karen Armstrong distils from these the key events of Buddha’s life: his birth as Siddhartha Gotama in the fifth century BC and his abandonment of his wife and son; his attainment of enlightenment under the Banyan tree (the moment he became a buddha, or enlightened one; his political influence; the divisions among his followers; and his serene death. Armstrong also introduces the key tenets of Buddhism: she explains the doctrine of anatta (no-soul) and the concepts of kamma (actions), samsara (keeping going), dhamma (a law or teaching that reflects the fundamental principles of existence) and the idealised state of nibbana (literally the ‘cooling of the ego’). Since it promotes no personal god, Buddhism, writes Armstrong, ‘is essentially a psychological faith’. In our own age of secular anxiety, she shows that it has profound lessons to teach about selflessness and the simple life.
Karen Armstrong’s short book is a magnificent introduction to the life and thought of this most influential of spiritual thinkers.
The history of an extremist Islamic sect in the 11th-12th centuries whose terrorist methods gave the English language a new word: assassin.
The word ‘Assassin’ was brought back from Syria by the Crusaders, and in time acquired the meaning of murderer. Originally it was applied to the members of a Muslim religious sect – a branch of the Ismailis, and the followers of a leader known as the Old Man of the Mountain. Their beliefs and their methods made them a by-word for both fanaticism and terrorism in Syria and Persia in the 11th and 12th centuries, and the subject of a luxuriant growth of myth and legend.
In this book, Bernard Lewis begins by tracing the development of these legends in medieval and modern Europe and the gradual percolation of accurate knowledge concerning the Ismailis. He then examines the origins and activities of the sect, on the basis of contemporary Persian and Arabic sources, and against the background of Middle Eastern and Islamic history. In a final chapter he discusses some of the political, social and economic implications of the Ismailis, and examines the significance of the Assassins in the history of revolutionary and terrorist movements.
The great scholar of Islam directly confronts the events of September 11th and the reasons behind Islamic terrorism in the modern world – a Sunday Times bestseller.
President Bush has made it clear that we are engaged in a war against terrorism. But for Osama bin Laden and his followers this is religious war, a war for Islam against infidels, especially the United States, the greatest power in the world of the infidels. In this book Bernard Lewis shows us where the anger and frustration have come from, and the extent to which almost the entire Muslim world is affected by poverty and tyranny.
He looks at the influence of extreme Wahhabist doctrines in the Saudi kingdom, where custodianship of Islam’s holy places and the revenues of oil have given worldwide impact to what would otherwise have been an extremist fringe in a marginal country. He looks at American double standards, which have long caused Muslim anger, and tells us the real meaning of `Islamic fundamentalism’, `jihad’ and `fatwa’, and why the peoples of the Middle East are conscious of history in a way most Americans find difficult to understand.
An epic true story of treachery, revenge and courage
The Indian Mutiny is a real page-turner, an epic story with surprising modern parallels. Fomer army officer-turned-TV scriptwriter, Julian Spilsbury is the ideal author to take us back to the desperate summer of 1857 when thousands of Indian soldiers mutinied. They murdered their officers, hunted down the women and children and burned and slaughtered their way to Delhi. The tiny British garrison at Lucknow held out against all odds; the one at Cawnpore surrendered only to be betrayed and massacred.
Modern Indian accounts call this ‘the first war of liberation’, but as Julian Spilsbury reveals, 80 per cent of the so-called ‘British’ forces were from the sub-continent. Sikhs, Gurkhas and Afghans fought alongside small numbers of British soldiers. Together, they faced terrible odds and won. In the process they created a new army that would play a vital role in the Allied forces in both World Wars.
Julian Spilsbury weaves the story together from some of the most vivid eyewitness accounts ever written. From the women and children hiding from blood-crazed mobs, to the epic battles that decided the campaign, to the grisly revenge exacted by the British forces, this is a gripping recreation of the greatest crisis of Empire.
A brilliant survey of the history and civilisations of the Middle East by one of the world’s greatest authorities on the subject
In this immensely readable and wide-ranging book, Bernard Lewis charts the successive transformations of the Middle East, beginning with the two great empires, the Roman and the Persian, and covering the growth of Christianity, the rise and spread of Islam, the waves of invaders from the east, the Mongol hordes of Jengiz Khan, the rise of the Ottoman Turks, and the changing balance of power between the Muslim and Christian worlds.
‘This book is a masterpiece’ Sir Anthony Parsons, Daily Telegraph
Inside the opulent, decadent world of the Mughal emperors
The Mughal emperors were larger-than-life figures, men written on a supra-human scale who exercised absolute power. The three centuries of their rule, as laid out in Eraly’s previous volume, THE MUGHAL THRONE, mark one of the most crucial and fascinating periods of Indian history. Here, he looks beyond the story of the empires rise and fall – an exotic growth that was transplanted to India from Islamic Persia – to bring the world of the Mughal ruler and Hindu subject vividly into focus.
Blending contemporary sources and detailed description he introduces an India full of strangeness and contrast: of sacred harems and suttee rites, of brutal war and cultural and artistic refinement, of staggering opulence, deviant indulgences and abject poverty. From bizarre religious cults to the Mughal fondness for formal gardening, from murderous female bandits to the sex lives of the nobles, almost every angle of life is examined making this a comprehensive and absorbing introduction to India’s last Golden Age.
Most of the modern states of the Middle East are of recent origin, yet the region is the birthplace of three religions and many civilizations. Bernard Lewis, one of the world’s most respected historians of the Middle East, discusses the countries and frontiers; their religions and communities; language and loyalties to place, and Middle Eastern perceptions of outsiders. He also considers the effect of alien ideas and influences including liberalism, nationalism, fascism, socialism and democracy.
‘The story of the first all-out struggle in Asia between Communism and the West, vividly told in an exciting and engrossing book’ Sunday Express
Only three short years after the end of the Japanese occupation, war came again to Malaya. The Chinese-backed guerrillas called it the War of the Running Dogs – their contemptuous term for those in Malaya who remained loyal to the British. The British Government referred to this bloody and costly struggle as the ‘Malayan Emergency’. Yet it was a war that lasted twelve years and cost thousands of lives. By the time it was over Malaya had obtained its independence – but on British, not on Chinese or Communist terms.
Here is the war as it was. Here are the planters and their wives on their remote rubber estates, the policemen, the generals and the soldiers, the Malays, Chinese and Indians of a polyglot country, all fighting an astute, ruthless, and well organized enemy.
‘Robert Twigger is not so much a travel writer as a thrill-seeking philosopher’ Esquire
The Himalayas beckon and we go … Some to make real journeys and others to make imaginary ones. These mountains, home to Buddhists, Bonpos, Jains, Muslims, Hindus, shamans and animists, to name only a few, are a place of pilgrimage and dreams, revelation and war, massacre and invasion, but also peace and unutterable calm.
In an exploration of the region’s seismic history, Robert Twigger unravels some of these real and invented journeys and the unexpected links between them. Following a meandering path across the Himalayas to its physical end in Nagaland on the Indian-Burmese border, Twigger encounters incredible stories from a unique cast of mountaineers and mystics, pundits and prophets. The result is a sweeping, enthralling and surprising journey through the history of the world’s greatest mountain range.