Hmmm...where to start? This book was recommended to me when I requested a very fact-based, objective look at Islam. In some ways, this is a good overvHmmm...where to start? This book was recommended to me when I requested a very fact-based, objective look at Islam. In some ways, this is a good overview of Islam--historical information, basic tenets of the faith, etc. However, the book is bogged down with generalizations, some misinformation and a lot of very disturbing apologies for some of the very disturbing things done in the name of Islam.
I don't necessarily think Islam is worse than other religions (some aspects yes, others no) but Emerick's attempts at Islamic apologetics are worse than a lot of others'. He asserts that crime is nearly non existent in societies that have implemented Islamic law. This is somewhat undermined by the fact that Saudi Arabia keeps executing people. He explains how he totally doesn't agree with the Taliban but here's how the Taliban has been misunderstood and those statues they blew up were totally not even important because there haven't been any Buddhists in Afghanistan for like EVER so it's still totally in keeping with the great respect that Islam has for other religions to get rid of them because no one was really using them.
Using that logic, we should all be cool with it if someone blows up the Acropolis--it's not like anyone still worships Athena!
I was frequently annoyed with the author for putting in "facts" that are more like opinion--sometimes he actually put these under the "Just the Facts" sidebars so that's extra baffling. He'll assert something as fact with no citation (or with a sly "some scholars say..." Who?!) or insert a quote under "just the facts" when it is simply a quote that expresses an opinion. He will list false facts like "Mohammed sent letters to all the heads of state of his day and museums retain those copies" (not actually something historical scholars believe) or that evolution can't account for human traits like compassion (actually, it can and does. There are actual articles about this using science!)
Other times he takes what I assume is his own experience and declares it to be universal. I was very confused when he explained how western history classes depict the heroic capture of Palestine by medieval crusaders. Really? Because I went to Catholic school and was taught that the crusades were misguided and a complete failure.
It's not just on controversial issues he assumes an incorrect universal experience. He tells us that the two feasts/holidays in Islam are fast breaking post-Ramadan and the feast following he annual pilgrimage, with the post-Ramadan feast being the much bigger deal. I assume this is the case where he lives and practices. But guess what? In Morocco, the post Ramadan feast is called "small feast" and the post pilgrimage one is called "big feast." Guess which is a bigger deal? It's not a huge mistake but I wonder how many others there were that I didn't catch. Makes me distrust the author and assume he's been sloppy with his research.
But it's his comments about women that really made me wince.
Did you know that "most Muslim women live oppression free lives"? Our author asserts nothing less. Where can I sign up to live this oppression free life?
But perhaps I can't expect too much from a man whose knowledge of women's issues doesn't extend to knowing that it's Elizabeth Cady Stanton, not "Cady Stanton" (did this book have an editor? I decided "no" when I then read about something "hearkening back" to earlier times).
While I'm nitpicking with "Cady Stanton," the author's dismal view of women's issues within Islam is a larger problem. This is perhaps best expressed when he kindly explains that while it didn't turn out great and most everyone Muslim condemned them, the Taliban's policies around women were just an honest attempt to deal with a high unemployment rate!
Sexist practices are mansplained away with explanations avoiding any real reflection. Women HAVE to stand behind men in the mosque. Otherwise their lovely lady lumps could distract men from prayer (but women are incapable of being distracted by looking at men's bootyliciousness). Banning women when they are menstruating isn't because they are unclean--they are just ritually unclean! See? Totally different!
And Islamic women cover their hair because it is required by Islam to protect them from men's lustful gaze. It's for their protection, DUH! Yet I know there are lots of Muslims and even Islamic scholars who will argue that covering one's hair is NOT required. But the author presents it as a completely non-controversial fact. IT's just "What Islam Says." Same with abortion--it's against Islam. End of story, right? Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. In fact (an actual fact, not a "fact" like those presented this book), the King of Morocco recently tasked religious scholars with finding some ways for Morocco to liberalize their abortion laws while staying within the confines of Islam. So Islam and women--maybe not the author's strong suit.
Finally, I find it completely bizarre that though the edition I read was published in 2002, the only mention of Osama bin Laden is as the mastermind of attacks on some U.S. embassies. Why would you publish an American book, for American audiences, in 2002 that failed to acknowledge the 2001 occurrence of the most significant crime ever committed against Americans in the name of Islam?
Most of the problems I've listed above aren't a problem for those reading this book with a critical eye. But the book is, by its own admission, targeted towards complete idiots. So for an objective, fact based overview of Islam, keep looking. ...more
Some of the later chapters get a little to high-concept for their own good IMHO but all in all a delightful read about some of the major and minor chaSome of the later chapters get a little to high-concept for their own good IMHO but all in all a delightful read about some of the major and minor characters in Parisian history. ...more
While I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to Cold Comfort Farm as some reviewers have, I admit to laughing out loud several times at this tale of aWhile I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to Cold Comfort Farm as some reviewers have, I admit to laughing out loud several times at this tale of a divorced family in 1970s-era Britain. ...more
The romance reads straight out of rape-y Ayn Rand and I prefer Christie's straight up murder mysteries rather than her over wrought crime syndicate/inThe romance reads straight out of rape-y Ayn Rand and I prefer Christie's straight up murder mysteries rather than her over wrought crime syndicate/international espionage books. ...more
I liked that it took place in York and evoked the atmosphere of past and present. But not particularly satisfying as either a mystery or a thriller--mI liked that it took place in York and evoked the atmosphere of past and present. But not particularly satisfying as either a mystery or a thriller--more coincidences than a Dickens novel (or three) and more unbelievable crimes in just a few days than your average Law and Order SVU episode. ...more
This book was a hot mess. I remembered loving Tommy and Tuppence when I was a kid and reading the all-too-few books about them but now that I reread tThis book was a hot mess. I remembered loving Tommy and Tuppence when I was a kid and reading the all-too-few books about them but now that I reread this, it just makes me sad. Sentences like "you remember our adopted daughter Betty?" Sigh. ...more
I'm sure I've read this before when I was young and read all the Agatha Christie's I could get my hands on but reading it when I'm older makes me realI'm sure I've read this before when I was young and read all the Agatha Christie's I could get my hands on but reading it when I'm older makes me realize this is not her strongest showing. It takes forever for a murder to happen and the suspension of disbelief is just too much given all the machinations. And then there's Miss Marple muttering oddly about "evil..." Not the best....more
Given that the author had written a book about Victorian England and murder, I kind of thought this would be a more old fashioned "cozy" mystery. it wGiven that the author had written a book about Victorian England and murder, I kind of thought this would be a more old fashioned "cozy" mystery. it was not. Not that this is a bad thing but it also featured a wildly unprofessional police officer and a few too many criminals to be remotely believable. ...more