History in Review
Rise of the Islamic Empire and the Threat to the West
By Anthony J. Dennis. (Lima, Ohio, Wyndam Hall Press: 1996.
Second Edition: 2001. Pg. 156) ISBN: 1-55605-339-8.
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - April 29, 2002
When The Rise of the Islamic Empire and the Threat to the West was first published in 1996, it received little popular attention, although it was well received in academic circles. Due to the events surrounding September 11th there has arisen a general interest in all things dealing with Islam. This rise in interest represents, on many levels, peoples need to understand how such events could have occurred, and whether or not such violence is inherent in Islam, or if it is just an apparition.
In this book, Anthony J. Dennis takes a comprehensive look at Islam, from both a political and religious perspective. He discusses the rise of Islam, its role throughout history, and how Islam is more than just a religious system, but a political system as well. With this knowledge in hand, Dennis then explores how the Cold War served to keep fundamentalist Islamic tendencies in check. When the Cold War ended, fundamentalist Islamic forces quickly filled the power void created by the fall of Communism.
Many of the leaders in Islamic countries are full-fledged dictators, and the threat these leaders pose to their own people is chronicled in the pages of this book, as are the threats these individuals pose to the West. In looking at this threat, Dennis offers an in-depth analysis as to why the Islamic world, as a whole, hates the West. This analysis also details how, and why, this hatred often manifests itself in violent actions.
Is Islam, as a religion, a faith built upon a foundation of violence? Is it a religion that glorifies murderers of innocents? Or is it the nonviolent, peaceful religion that it is often proclaimed as by apologetics? There are no right or wrong answers here. Your answer to these questions will depend upon your personal experiences and your world view. However, after reading this book, you will be hard pressed not to see that Islam represents a very real threat to the West.
While the events of September 11th were horrific, they were not isolated events. Various Islamic extremist groups have used suicide 'terrorist' for decades, especially against Israel. For Americans', they may have viewed these acts with repugnance, but they had little impact on day to day life in America. Recent events have proven that no matter how powerful we 'think' we are, we are still vulnerable to attack.
This is not an anti-Islam book, although it does highlight a variety of negative aspects inherent in Islamic Fundamentalism. However, these 'fundamentalists' are not individuals who adhere strictly to the tenets of Islam. Rather they are, for the most case, individuals who have perverted Islam to suit their own needs and objectives. As such they remake the laws of Islam, offering unique interpretations of doctrine that they impose upon their followers.
Looking at this book piecemeal, or without reading it, many may jump to the conclusion that Dennis is merely rehashing a stereotypical image of the Muslim hordes unrepentantly slaughtering every nonbelieiver that crosses their path. Far from offering a stereotypical overview, Dennis has constructed a well researched, and thoroughly documented work that clearly and succinctly outlines the threat that Islam represents for the West, and why this threat arose in the first place. At the end of each chapter you will find Dennis's endnotes, which serve to point out the veracity of his thesis. They also serve as a good starting point for further study into this topic. Most important, this book serves as a wake-up call for politicians and foreign affair experts who do not yet realize the threat posed by Islam, and America's vulnerability to such a threat.
When this book was first published in 1996, Dennis stated, "...Islam in its violent, reactionary, fundamentalist form will continue to be the number one threat to world peace and the very survival of the human species in the late 1990s and beyond..." (Pg. ii). To date, he has not been far off the mark. Read this book. You may not agree with everything that Dennis says, but one thing is certain, this book will make you think....
Conflicts in the Middle East since 1945. Second Edition, by Beverley Milton-Edwards and Peter Hinchcliffe.
A brief, up-to-date overview on the causes and consequences of the conflicts in the Middle East since 1945.
Energy Victory, by Robert Zubrin.
Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. In this book, Zubrin offers a realistic and cogent plan to rapidly wean America off Mideast oil. Most important, his plan is both technologically and economically feasible.
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