From the first Arab-Islamic Empire of the mid-seventh century to the Ottomans, the last great Muslim empire, the story of the Middle East has been the story of the rise and fall of universal empires and, no less important, of imperialist dreams. So argues Efraim Karsh in this highly provocative book. Rejecting the conventional Western interpretation of Middle Eastern history as an offshoot of global power politics, Karsh contends that the region's experience is the culmination of long-existing indigenous trends, passions and patterns of behaviour, and that foremost among these is Islam's millenarian imperial tradition. The author explores the history of Islam's imperialism and the persistence of the Ottoman imperialist dream that outlasted World War I to haunt Islamic and Middle Eastern politics to the present day. September 11 can be seen as simply the latest expression of this dream, and such attacks have little to do with U.S. international behaviour or policy in the Middle East, says Karsh. The House of Islam's war for world mastery is traditional, indeed venerable, and it is a quest that is far from over.
"'I like Karsh's robust refusal to accept Muslim history as a sob story against us in the West. His narrative helps explain the rage and the sheer hopelessness of so much Muslim engagement with modern politics.' (Charles Moore, The Telegraph) 'Anyone interested in the debate about the place of Islam in the modern world should read this book... Karsh offers a new approach. He rejects the condescending approach of the apologists and the hateful passion of the Islamophobes... What does Islam want? Karsh poses the question and answers it unambiguously.' (Amir Taheri, The Sunday Telegraph) 'Karsh has produced an impeccable history of how the Muslim mainstream has behaved towards its neighbours... The chapters on the Ottomans and Iran are masterpieces of concise historical writing... I could not recommend this magnificent effort of reportage and analysis more highly.' (Hazhir Teimourian, Literary Review)"
Efraim Karsh is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies, King's College, University of London. He has published extensively and often served as a consultant on Middle Eastern affairs, Soviet foreign policy and European neutrality. His books include Palestine Betrayed, Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923 and Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography.