Bernard Lewis “What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response "
Oxford University Press | 2002-01-01 | ISBN: 0965444333 | 192 pages | PDF | 2,1 MB
"Following is bad enough; limping in the rear is far worse.", March 8, 2007 By Frank Bunyard (Elk Grove, CA USA)
"By all the standards that matter in the modern world - economic development and job creation, literacy and educational and scientific achievement, political freedom and respect for human rights - what was once a civilization has indeed fallen low." Thus, near the end of this 160 page meditation on "What Went Wrong," Bernard Lewis sums up the present status of the Middle East.
Earlier in the book he notes "according to a World Bank estimate, the total exports of the Arab world other than fossil fuels amount to less than Finland, a country of five million inhabitants. Nor is much coming into the region by way of capital investment. On the contrary, wealthy Middle Easterners prefer to invest their capital abroad, in the developed world." (Note the importance of the comment, "other than fossil fuels".)
This brief book, which is a re-written conflation of several lectures and articles by Lewis, is an uncompromising assessment of the modern Middle East. (Although published in 2002, it was written prior to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.) Professor Lewis examines a number of theories which purport to explain why, after centuries of superiority, the Islamic Middle East finds itself "poor, weak, and ignorant."
He notes the claims by Muslims that they are victims. "The question `Who did this to us?' has led only to neurotic fantasies and conspiracy theories." And in the end, Lewis concludes "...it is precisely the lack of freedom - freedom of the mind from constraint and indoctrination, to question and inquire and speak; freedom of the economy from corrupt and pervasivement mismanagement; freedom of women from male oppression; freedom of citizens from tyranny - that underlies so many of the troubles of the Muslim world."
This short book is well worth reading.
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