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.
About Bernard Lewis and Buntzie Ellis Churchill
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.
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Lewis (Eastern Studies Emeritus/Princeton Univ.; The End of Modern History in the Middle East, 2011, etc.) was born in 1916 and is still astoundingly prolific and relevant, as demonstrated in recent bestsellers What Went Wrong? (2002) and The Crisis of Islam (2004). In episodic, wittily composed chapters, he addresses salient events in his career as a historian of the Near and Middle East—e.g., the process of learning numerous difficult languages and formative influences such as being born a nonreligious Jew in London. Enamored early on with exotic languages, he taught himself Italian and Hebrew, then at the University of London (his father wouldn’t let his only child go to Oxford because “it was just a place where students spent all their time drinking and partying”) he entered the relatively untried field of Oriental Studies and tackled Arabic. In this prewar era, his teachers followed a philological, textual approach, rather than historical. When he chose “the Eastern Question” in terms of the Ottoman Empire, he was encouraged to study the British, French, German and Russian documents, but not the Turkish. After the war, which Lewis spent with British intelligence doing decoding and translating work, he headed for Istanbul, determined to delve into the Ottoman archives, and emerged with an important early work, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (1961). In a lifelong pursuit of an unbiased and accurate historical method, he has often served as a kind of cultural diplomat, lecturing in America and translating for dignitaries, and he urges the guarding of one’s “scholarly impartiality” and against prejudice. He writes frankly of his long tenure at Princeton, the dicey Israel-Palestinian crisis, the eclipse of secularism in the Muslim world and the “dangerous trend…of intellectual protectionism” advocated by Edward Said et al. – Kirkus Reviews
“Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian” by Bernard Lewis with Buntzie Ellis Churchill
The Washington Post Book Review – September 14, 2012 (Excerpt)
As a young graduate student, I won a brief visiting fellowship to Tel Aviv University, only to find that my hosts did not quite know where to put me — and so I somehow wound up in the office of the legendary Middle East historian Bernard Lewis, who, I was told, would occasionally drop by the university during his global peregrinations. I would be periodically interrupted by a diffident knock, and I still wince at the memory of the looks of the pilgrims who had come in search of the great man only to find me instead.
The office in Tel Aviv was part of Lewis’s high-flying academic life, which he recounts in his new memoir, “Notes on a Century” (co-authored with his companion, the magnificently named Buntzie Ellis Churchill). Lewis has led a staggeringly productive life — publishing a jaw-dropping 32 books — and seems to have had more fun than any department worth of more somber professors. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.