The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization

Richard W. Bulliet

Columbia University Press

The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization

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Pub Date: February 2006

ISBN: 9780231127974

192 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.95£23.00

Pub Date: July 2004

ISBN: 9780231127967

192 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $80.00£67.00

Pub Date: July 2004

ISBN: 9780231509183

192 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $26.99£23.00

The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization

Richard W. Bulliet

Columbia University Press

Conventional wisdom maintains that the differences between Islam and Christianity are irreconcilable. Pre-eminent Middle East scholar Richard W. Bulliet disagrees, and in this fresh, provocative book he looks beneath the rhetoric of hatred and misunderstanding to challenge prevailing—and misleading—views of Islamic history and a "clash of civilizations." These sibling societies begin at the same time, go through the same developmental stages, and confront the same internal challenges. Yet as Christianity grows rich and powerful and less central to everyday life, Islam finds success around the globe but falls behind in wealth and power.

Modernization in the nineteenth century brings in secular forces that marginalize religion in political and public life. In the Christian world, this simply furthers a process that had already begun. In the Middle East this gives rise to the tyrannical governments that continue to dominate. Bulliet argues that beginning in the 1950s American policymakers misread the Muslim world and, instead of focusing on the growing discontent against the unpopular governments, saw only a forum for liberal, democratic reforms within those governments. By fostering slogans like "clash of civilizations" and "what went wrong," Americans to this day continue to misread the Muslim world and to miss the opportunity to focus on common ground for building lasting peace. This book offers a fresh perspective on U.S.-Muslim relations and provides the intellectual groundwork upon which to help build a peaceful and democratic future in the Muslim world.

Richard Bulliet's The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization re-examines most of the pieties of the West about the Muslim world and Islamic politics (and about the West itself) and finds them not only wrong but wrongly conceived.... He argues that modern European and Muslim history are deeply intertwined and that one cannot be understood in isolation from the other, thereby launching a profound challenge to teachers, historians and policy-makers.

Juan Cole, University of Michigan, The International Journal of Middle East Studies

[An] insightful book about Islam and Muslims that actually provides hope for the future.... this book is a quick, informative, and encouraging read.

Publishers Weekly

A clearly written book, aimed at the general reader...requires a place on the library shelf

Steve Young, Library Journal

Presents a persuasive case for viewing Islam and the West... [a]brilliant new book

Emran Qureshi, Toronto Globe and Mail

Seeks to bridge a gap between Islam and the West... His solution is to try to patch things up by emphasizing all that Islam and Christianity have in common.

Daniel Lazare, The Nation

As Bulliet writes... there is a far better case for 'Islamo-Christian civilization' than there is for a clash of civilizations.

Washington Monthly

Only a historian as great as Richard Bulliet could offer such new daring insights into the Islamic-Christian encounter. After this book, it will no longer be possible to consider with any degree of seriousness the pop philosophy of a "clash of civilizations." All those who care about the future of the Muslim world-US relationship will do well to read this brilliant book.

Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director, Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West, World Policy Institute, New School

Though Islamo-Christian civilization may be a neologism, it is a creative key term that this book will make into a household word. Since 9/11 Americans have been subjected to a relentless parade of experts, from missionaries to historians to special interest advocates, all of whom warn about the difference and danger of Islam. Richard Bulliet reveals the flimsiness of their arguments. Against Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" and Bernard Lewis's "What Went Wrong?," Bulliet sees a future in which the screeds of American Islamophobes and the violent dreams of Muslim extremists both are eclipsed by respect and popular following for leaders of tolerant and peaceful conscience. They are the key to our collective future as members of Islamo-Christian civilization.

Bruce B. Lawrence, Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University

Offers a rich lode of penetrating insights.

L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

A positive and challenging proposal, underscoring the importance of the phases we use in defining our world.

Future Survey

Obviously, this is an important book with the important proposal to familiarize everyone with the term "Islam-Christian civilization". Let us take heed.

Murad Wilfried Hofmann, The Muslim World Book Review

It deserves the widest possible readership, addressing as it does with wit and insight one of the most freighted issues of our times.

Malise Ruthven, Times Literary Supplement

Bulliet's ideas are collectively imaginative and a major contribution... No reader will see the history either of Christendom or Islam in quite the same way.

Ronald Davis, Domes

Great scholarship and vision... Bulliet offers rare insights in the Islamic and the (post)-Christian worlds.

Johannes J. G. Jansen, International History Review

An excellent touchstone... this is not a volume that should be ignored.

John J. Curry, Ph.D., Digest of Middle East Studies

[A] wise and wonderful book.

Howard J. Dooley, Journal of World History

[These essays] emanate from a fair-minded approach to strident debates - written, if you will, from the center.

International Journal of Middle East Studies
Chapter 1. Islamo-Christian Civilization
Chapter 2. What Went On?
Chapter 3. Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Chapter 4. The Edge of the Future
Works Cited

About the Author

Richard W. Bulliet is professor of history at Columbia University. A former director of the Middle East Institute and executive secretary of the Middle East Studies Association, he is the author of Islam: The View from the Edge, The Camel and The Wheel, and editor of The Columbia History of the Twentieth Century. He lives in New York City.