The rationalization of the Ottoman military might was the best part in the book. I am not surprised if this work becomes a classic.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR ANY OBSERVER AND ADVISOR!!!
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I'll say this at least: It is no accident that the local university has stocked up on Greave's CIVILIZATIONS OF THE WEST. This is an outstanding volume in terms of breadth of information, coverage of social and cultural life, illustrations and organization of material. A distinguishing feature of the volume, adding to the aesthetically pleasing layout and quality of information, are inset boxes. With literary excerpts and writings from intellectuals and ordinary people of the times these boxes add vividness and immediacy to History studies, bringing one a little closer to people and events. Overall, this is an excellent book, to be used in conjunction with J.M.G ROBERTS, TRIUMPH OF THE WEST (or, HISTORY OF THE WORLD, by the same author, published by Penguin books).
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Murphey's version of "A History of Asia" is the text book assigned for my otherwise wonderful Asian Studies class.
Let me quote some examples from the sixth edition:(pp110 para 6) "Plunder and slaughter in the name of God did not make a good impression for Islam on most Indians, but the austere new religion with its offer of certanity and equality of all did apeal to some, as wherever it spread to other countries." So what is the author saying?? He is talking about Mahmud of Ghazni whose "remote mountain ringed capital became a great center of Islamic Culture, thanks in part to stolen Indian riches." So, is he saying that Islam brought equality and justice to India, or is he saying that Islam brought plunder and brutalty to the region, or is it his own bias showing through?
It is also interesting to note that when finding a passage to quote from the Quran, as opposed to the ones he picks to quote from other scriptures, he chooses the now fashionable-to-quote: "Fight in the name of God against those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression..." is this all that Islam represents to the learned professor that he wants to pass on to his audience? Did he care to mention the context in which those verses were said and written? Did he know that that the first thirteen years of Islam, Muslims were forbidden to fight back even in the face of violent persecution, the kind known only to the Arabian desert of 1500 years ago?
Lets move on... When talking about the most important event of Islam, the Hijrah (pp 36) or the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah, Murphey says: "When preaching against these evils attracted few supporters, he (Mohammad) moved to Medina..." Really?? was that the reason for the Hijira? In actuality, the persecution of Muslims had increased to the level where they were being systematically killed by Arab pagans and Muhammad himself was the target of assasination attempts, it is in the light of those events that Muslims belive he was ordered to migrate to Medina by God. Murphey futher goes on to say that the the migration is used to mark the first year of the Muslim era, known as the "year of the prophet" Please!! It is known as "Hijri" or the "year of the migration."
Further references to Islam are too blatantly biased to pass of as mere ignorance "or not one of Dr. Murpheys area of expertise" as some would like to discount.
Let me quote here for example: "Women have an explicitly inferior status, can be set aside at will by their husbands, must cover their bodies (my comment: the favorite of those who cannot tolerate seeing women in anything but bikinis, of course), and face outside their own domestic quarters (to which they are largely confined), and are subject to their fathers, brothers, and husbands in all things. The Koran also sanctions holy war (jihad)....." and it goes on. Which culture is Murphey trying to describe here? some backward desert tribe in a so-called Islamic state or that prescribed by Islam itself? I would definitely be interested in knowing the sources he has used to arrive at these statements. By the way, the word "Jihad" does not translate to "Holy War", in fact, there is no word or phrase in the Arabic language that translates to this remnant phrase from the Crusades. "Jihad" merely means "Struggle"
The fact is that in a society that practiced female infanticide and left hundreds of women widowed and cast out from being respectable members of the society due to tribal wars that waged for years, Islam brought rights and respect to women. It allowed the widowed women to be married respectably rather than be abused mistresses to already married men, it allowed women to vote and to make important decisions in the community, it dispelled the practice of depriving women of the right of posessing property, and the limitation of their right of transaction, it cancelled the practice of husbands despotism in the property of their wives, in short, among many other social and individual benefits, Islam guaranteed rights to to women fifteen hundred years ago that modern western civilizations had not been able to guarantee till a few decades ago.
I would give this book a zero star if the option existed. How can I read the rest of the book without knowing that it is not tainted with the authors biases, ignorance and prejudice. Not knowing if this so called account of Asian History is accurate, I would refrain from recommending it as a text book.
That said, this book is very good if you're interested in a thorough, exhaustive history of Asia. Murphey focusses on themes and meaning rather than lists of names and dates. Memorisation and quotation of established facts are not the order of the day. Probably an ideal introductory history of Monsoon Asia, this book makes a good gateway to further in-depth study of the area.
That said, it's not a perfect book. Some broad claims are made about the region, such as the claim that Asian societies are older and possess greater sophistication. This is inaccurate -- after all, Egyptian civilization is two thousand years older, and the Fertile Crescent civilization is one thousand years older, than the civilizations of China and the Indus River valley. True, China was at one time the most powerful and sophisticated on Earth, but it is no longer, because it placed greater value on social stability than on development and growth. These claims are surely brash and possibly offensive to those who have struggled to make other civilizations advance beyond a crude level.
Barring that sort of thing, however, this book is a good scholastic introduction to the history of Monsoon Asia. It will bore casual readers, keep that in mind. However, if you are interested in an in-depth study of the themes that continue to color Asia, this is your book.
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