Critical Analysis for What Went Wrong? by Bernard Lweis

Topics: Islam, Middle East, Muslim world Pages: 16 (6769 words) Published: October 14, 2012
What went wrong ? : Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response is a book by Bernard Lewis. It was first published in Great Britain. This paperback edition was released in 2002 by Phonix, an imprint of Origon Books. Bernard Lewis is a Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University. He wrote more than two dozen books concerning the Islamic-Western issues. His most notable works are: The Arab in History, The Assassins, The Middle East , and Crisis in Islam. What Went Wrong? is his latest book. It was considered to be the New York Times Bestseller from the Father of Middle Eastern issues. Hence, What Went Wrong? is an important book which is worthy to be reviewed. Bernd Lewis' phases of life contributed to shape his ideology and interests. His childhood indicated somehow the person he became later on. He was born in May 31, 1916 in London, England to middle-class Jewish parents. At an early age, he became attracted to language and history. He learned Aramaic, Arabic, some Latin, Greece, Persian and Turkish. His history interest began when he received a book on Jewish history at the age of eleven. In addition to that, his university Studies came to confirm his history mania. He graduated from SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, at University of London in 1936. His B.A was in the near and the Middle East. Three years later, he got his PhD specializing in the Islam History. He studied low for a while, but he returned to his track by studying with a French orientalist called Louis Massignon and obtained the "Diplome des Etudes Semitiqes," in 1937 at the University of Pons. Further more, his 60-year career formed the position he has now a days as an influential historian of the Middle East and Islam. After getting his French diploma he worked as an assistant lecturer in Islamic History in SOAS in 1938. During the Second World War, Lewis joined the British Army in the Royal Armored and Intelligence Corps. Then in 1949, he was appointed to the new chair in Near and Middle Eastern History at the age of thirty three. After that, in 1974, he accepted a joint position at Princeton University. This position marked his most prolific period in his research career. He published a great number of books and articles which affected the western public opinion. Thus, Lewis' childhood, education and profession career are the ingredients for this famous influential writer. Bernard Lewis' significance stems from his research work, books and his influence on contemporary politics. First of all, his research work was dedicated to the Middle Eastern and Islamic history. Then after the creation of Israel, it became impossible to writers from Jewish origin to make research work in Arab countries. They were immediately suspected of espionage. That is why he switched to the study of the Ottoman Empire. It was the curtain behind which he continued to study the Arab history. Secondly, his books reflect the extension of his authority beyond being academic. He wrote three major books for the regular public audience: The Arab history (1950), The Middle East and the west (1964) and The Middle East (1995). Finally, he has a respectable word on contemporary issues. Dick Cheney, U.S vice president, said that, "……. In the new century, his wisdom is sought daily by policy makers, diplomats, fellow academics and the news media "(qtd in “Bernard Lewis”). Hence, Lewis is highly estimated for his works and influence. In order to understand What Went Wrong? : Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response , by Lewis, at least in the world of public thinking, one should keep in mind the purposes standing behind writing this book. The first purpose is to answer those questions raised in the Muslims' minds from a long time ago concerning what had happened to them. The book offers a concise and timely survey of how Islamic civilization fell from worldwide leadership in almost all fields of humane knowledge for five or six centuries...
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