In Ishmael's House A History of Jews in Muslim Lands Martin Gilbert

Publication date:
30 Sep 2011
Yale University Press
448 pages: 229 x 149mm
30 b-w illus.
Sales territories:
World, except for Canada

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The relationship between Jews and Muslims has been a flashpoint that affects stability in the Middle East and has consequences around the globe. In this absorbing and eloquent book, Martin Gilbert challenges the standard media portrayal and presents a fascinating account of hope, opportunity, fear, and terror that have characterized these two people through the 1,400 years of their intertwined history.

Harking back to the Biblical story of Ishmael and Isaac, Gilbert takes the reader from the origins of the fraught relationship - the refusal of Medina's Jews to accept Mohammed as a prophet - through the ages of the Crusader reconquest of the Holy Land and the great Muslim sultanates to the present day. He explores the impact of Zionism in the first half of the twentieth century, the clash of nationalisms during the Second World War, the mass expulsions and exodus of 800,000 Jews from Muslim lands following the birth of Israel, the Six-Day War and its aftermath, and the political sensitivities of the current Middle East.

In Ishmael's House sheds light on a time of prosperity and opportunity for Jews in Muslim lands stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan, with many instances of Muslim openness, support, and courage. Drawing on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources, Gilbert uses archived material, poems, letters, memoirs, and personal testimony to uncover the human voice of this centuries-old conflict. Ultimately Gilbert's moving account of mutual tolerance between Muslims and Jews provides a perspective on current events and a template for the future.

Sir Martin Gilbert is the author of more than eighty books, including the six-volume authorized biography of Winston Churchill.

"A nonstop barrage of compelling facts from a breathtakingly wide collection of archives, to build up an overwhelming portrait of a people's suffering." -Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

"A valuable, balanced contribution." -Iain Finlayson, The Times

"Gilbert's scholarship is meticulous, his tone balanced, and he takes care to include painstaking details." -Marina Benjamin, London Evening Standard

"Gilbert fluently recounts the ups and downs of Jewish-Arab relations over the centuries." -Adam LeBor, Literary Review

"Gilbert's book is an illuminating and a moving account of the history of the Jews in Arab lands." -Avi Shlaim, Financial Times

"Hard-hitting and frequently harrowing" -Simon Griffith, Mail on Sunday