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Synopsis

After 9/11, people who had never given much thought to the politics of the Middle East found themselves wondering why there was such rage brewing in the region. Many of them turned to Bernard Lewis for an explanation. The world's pre-eminent historian of the Middle East, Lewis was among the first to identify the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism. In this exceptional memoir, he looks back over his long career - taking us from his discovery of the Crusades, as a young boy in London, and his service in British intelligence during the Second World War, through to the Iraq wars, the crisis with Iran, and the great upheavals of the Arab Spring. Over the course of his distinguished career, he has at times been as much a player in political events as well as a scholar. He has advised monarchs, presidents, prime ministers and dissidents in the Middle East and elsewhere. Now 95, and still sharper than most college students, he writes with barbed wit about the people he has known and the events he has witnessed and participated in. No subject is more fraught in the Middle East than history - and so Bernard Lewis has found himself unexpectedly part of the story that he tells in this extraordinary memoir of a life that spans the 20th century, and has already had a great impact on the 21st.

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