BOOK REVIEW: What Went Wrong?
by James MacLaren
What Went Wrong?
Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response
Bernard Lewis, 2002, Oxford University Press
The preface lays it out pretty good: “This book was already in page proof
when the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington took place on September
11, 2001. It does not therefore deal with them, nor with their immediate
causes and after-effects. It is however related to these attacks, examining
not what happened and what followed, but what went before- the longer
sequence and larger pattern of events, ideas, and attitudes that preceded and
in some measure produced them.”
Like many of us, I’m endlessly fascinated by dangerous and unpleasant
things. Sharks, pandemics, atomic bombs and the hardware to deliver them,
serial killers, and all that sort of thing. Maybe there’s some atavistic
motivation underlying all of it. Maybe I’m subconsciously trying to
understand this kind of stuff in order to better defend against it, should I
cross paths with it one dark night. Then again, maybe I’m just nuts.
For most of my life, in the land of geopolitical shenanigans, my favorite
dangerous and unpleasant thing was Russia. I never could get enough Russia,
or, to be more precise, Soviet Union. The Soviets were fully capable of
fucking me up, and I knew it. Therefore, I drank deeply from the Russian cup.
I think I’ve found a new Russia (although it’s for sure as hell, I’m
still keeping an eye on the old one), and it’s Islamic Civilization. Just
about as dangerous and unpleasant as it gets, eh?
Communism and Islam have an amazing degree of similarities: They are (or were,
or perhaps both) both large and highly ramified, lending themselves to no end
of delightful puzzlement by an outsider as to their inner tickings. Both were
capable, at times, of world-beating feats of military, economic, and
scientific skill. They both seek nothing less than global domination. And
they’re both just as full of shit, from top to bottom, as anything possibly
Bogus ideologies, with hundreds of millions of adherents, attempting to come
into my home and tell me how to run my life.
No thanks, assholes!
Fortunately Communism took less than a full century to collapse under the
weight of its own bullshit.
Unfortunately, Islamic Civilization is still with us, nearly a millennium and
a half after it began its first bloody expansion.
The good news is that it looks like it’s starting to fall apart at the
seams, doddering under the weight of fourteen hundred years of accumulated
progress by other cultures, even as it attempts to hold ever tighter and
tighter to the revelation of ALL KNOWLEDGE way back in early Medieval days.
The bad news is that it’s not going to go away without one hell of a fight.
Which, by now, is plainly evident to all of us.
So let’s try to figure the sonofabitch out, the better to defend against it.
Which is where What Went Wrong comes in.
A most illuminating guided tour of the interactions between two great
civilizations, going all the way back to the days when Islam was the baddest
ass on the block and looked to be fixing to take over all of Europe, and then
proceeding down the corridors of time, to the present epoch.
For those of us who take things like sex and drugs and rock and roll for
granted, the mindset of your typical Abdul in, say, Saudi Arabia, is more than
just a little strange.
Abdul don’t like it.
And he don’t like it for reasons that will completely baffle you. Unless you
start reading neato books like this.
No, I’m not going to go into any detail as to the particulars of this book.
Well, ok, just this one. In a land where the church is the state and the state
is the church, and there is no church, and there is no state (BL explains THAT
nicely), it all boils down to: Things get run by God’s Lawyers. Scary enough
Run out there and get this one right now. The more of us who understand
these loonies, the better.