Review by Choice Review
Lyons has made a very significant contribution to the study of Islam and Muslims in the 21st century across disciplines. His background in journalism and doctorate in sociology contribute to an exciting text written in an extremely accessible style on a much debated and often distorted history of encounters. The book gives readers a "toolbox" of theories and methods with which to review encounters that revise old questions and ask new ones. The first myth that Lyons dispels is that the problems with Islam and Muslims are a fairly modern occurrence. The author traces encounters through historical documents from seventh-century Christian accounts in which Islam is seen as certainly a nuisance, but not as a threat until today. Lyons uses Michel Foucault's archaeology and genealogy to assist in uncovering the truth of encounters and the probable rationales behind their masking. He firmly places the discord in a thousand-year-old discourse whose owners benefit from the obscuring of Muslim contributions to science, associating Islam with violence and focusing on "the issue of Muslim violence against women." A must read for those interested in the subject. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above. A. B. McCloud DePaul University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Lyons regards Pope Urban II's address to the Council of Clermont in 1095, launching the First Crusade, as a defining moment in the West's view of Islam. Prior to that time, the West had little, if any, idea of Islam. Lyons argues that Urban's speech began an anti-Islam discourse that has continued intact and unabated in the West ever since. Developed and perpetuated by elites in the church, Western governments, the academy, and the present-day media for their own social, political, and economic advancement, it is a discourse that presents Islam as irrational, violent, immoral, and set on the West's destruction. Unless the West changes its internal dialogue, its encounter with Islam will not allow for negotiation, only violence. Academic in accent, accessible, and at times tinged with contempt and bitterness, Lyons' work nevertheless offers an excellent and engaging opportunity for critical self-reflection. Although the influence of the media, the imprimatur of the academy, and government spin cannot be underestimated, Lyons should also recognize that decent non-elites might not be so easily duped.--McConnell, Christopher Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Lyons, a foreign correspondent and scholar of Islamic civilization, explains how the dominant Western view of Muslims as irrational and incorrigible fanatics, obsessed by sex and violence, was forged at the time of the First Crusade and has been remarkably consistent and unchanging since then, promoted throughout the centuries largely by self-appointed "experts" who had little experience interacting with actual Muslims. This scholarly if sometimes overly pedantic book presents a well-researched and referenced case that "the West's ¿conversation' with Islam has always been a one-sided affair, essentially a dialogue with itself, revealing much about the subject but little or nothing about the object in question." In sections on Islam and science, religious violence, and the rights of women, Lyons (with an intellectual debt to Foucault and Said) meticulously catalogues how the narrative of Islam as a rapacious and ungodly "other" was constructed and reinforced, all the while obviating the need for any meaningful dialogue with Muslims themselves, who are placed "irretrievably outside the bounds of civilized society, reduced in status to little more than animals." A useful corrective to the powerful voices of those who intersperse claims of Islam's innate bloodthirstiness with advocacy for suppression of the rights of Muslims at home and abroad. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved