Destiny Disrupted : A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, Paperback

Destiny Disrupted : A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes Paperback

5 out of 5 (8 ratings)


We in the west share a common narrative of world history.

But our story largely omits a whole civilization whose citizens shared an entirely different narrative for a thousand years.

In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary tells the rich story of world history as the Islamic world saw it, from the time of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and beyond.

He clarifies why our civilizations grew up oblivious to each other, what happened when they intersected, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europe--a place it long perceived as primitive and disorganized--had somehow hijacked destiny.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages, 30 maps throughout
  • Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9781586488130



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Showing 1 - 5 of 8 reviews.

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Review by

It is very readable, and covers history in a manner which I enjoy, where the ideas of the time are treated along with the events. Although I was aware of a lot of the events, the book provides a cohesive view in which Europeans were not the central actors, but more a a blip on the edge until the last couple of centuries.

Review by

Destiny Disrupted is not an academic history of the Islamic culture through the ages and Tamim Ansary doesn’t pretend to be to be Islamic Scholar. What Destiny Disrupted is, is a very readable collection of the core stories that make up the Islamic history from its earliest beginnings to right through September 11 attack and the subsequent wars. A narrative of world history that is so different from our own, but as complex and intricate as anything the west as has to offer. Any survey of world history would be incomplete without the Islamic perspective, and Ansary is able to give the Muslim people a context and explains the reasoning behind the shape of their culture without becoming distant and cold to the subject matter demanded from a scholarly work. What Ansary argues isn’t the classic ‘clash of cultures’ that has been taught in the West dating back to the crusades, in fact for much of world history the west had so little to do with the middle world it would be hard to describe much of anything besides the 1st crusade and the current wars as a clash (at least from a wider view of World History). Instead Ansary presents a rather compelling thesis that Islamic history and Western history are two very different world histories trajectories that have only recently collided and are trying to work themselves out. Ansary doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable implications of his thesis: "The argument between Christian and Muslim 'fundamentalists' comes down to: Is there only one God or is Jesus Christ our savior? Again, that's not a point-counterpoint; that's two people talking to themselves in separate rooms." The real disappoint with this book is that once he builds his argument to a final crescendo, he leaves it there with no satisfactory answer. An impossible task I realize and something that is going to have to play itself out on a larger stage.

Review by

I cannot think of another book that I have ever read that has taught me as much about the world we live in. When we view objects with both eyes we can see them with more depth and dimensions. In the same manner Tamim Ansary's book presents another vantage point from which to view and examine world history and our understanding of it grows exponentially. As the title says, this is not a history of the Islamic World; it is a history of the entire world, as seem through the eyes of a Muslim. The causes and effects of such events as the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Great Plague, the Industrial Revolution and the Colonial Age are presented in a stark contrast to what we were taught in Middle School.I cannot recommend this book highly enough. In these turbulent times, it behooves us to be able to understand what drives the thoughts and deeds of those many of us have chosen to consider our enemies.

Review by

This book is a treasure: a mind-opening look at history from an Islamic viewpoint that's also an engrossing read. I have read a lot of history, including a good deal on various Islamic cultures. Mr. Ansary's book, however, taught me more about the Islamic world and about its interface with our own culture than anything else I have read.The author begins by telling us that his book is neither a thesis nor a scholarly work, and it is neither of these. Instead, it provides a broad overview of world history from an Islamic point of view -- structurally similar to the sort of world history students read in American colleges, but very different in its conclusions! Many of the events described will be familiar to readers of the standard "Western Civ" text. But they look very different in the perspective that Mr. Ansary presents. That difference goes all the way from the beginning of Islam to the current day, challenging underlying assumptions right and left, and shifting the cast of characters so that bit players in the Western narrative become central figures, while much of Western history moves to the sidelines.For me, this is a very valuable experience: I learned a great deal, and I think I may understand current-day Islamic attitudes better than I did. Don't read this book if you are looking for a detailed and documented history of the Islamic world; as Mr. Ansary says, this is not a scholarly work. It is, however, a very wise and valuable one -- do read it if you want to know more about the world you live in.

Review by

Mir Ansary's lighthearted prose and lively style make enjoyable reading of this complex topic. Through this alternate perspective not only do we gain an understanding that is critical to our comprehension of current events, but we also gain insight on how events were interpreted by people of that time. Ansary's evenhanded sympathy to all sides and his clear, concise depiction of events and their importance make this book invaluable to historical understanding.

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