of how Islamic history has been written (and the sources on which it has depended) is terrific.
Naturally, whenever Islamic history is discussed there is a sizeable elephant in the room. Silverstein boldly chooses not to ignore it. The next few centuries of European history are going to be defined, in large part, by the encounter between Islam and what some commentators (often glibly and rarely helpfully) refer to as the western worldview.
The first, most obvious strategy is to pour scorn on the notion of an unbridgeable chasm between these two historical phenomena. The antics of a few lunatics should not blind us to the fact that cross-cultural interplay can be a source of enrichment for everyone concerned.
At the same time it would be idiotic to suggest that there isn’t a tangible discrepancy between the Islamic and the JudaeoChristian traditions. The trick is to try and understand the gulf and there is no better place to start than a mutual appreciation of divergent histories. NonMuslim people in the West are apt to make a series of errors. First, when thinking about Islam they either reach for ludicrous stereotypes or they are too polite to confront the meaningful challenges Islam poses.
Second, they overlook the fact that Islam is now a part (and often a wonderful one) of western culture.
Third, they don’t take the time to learn their history.
There is no easy way to obliterate grotty, essentialist caricatures. Happily, the deployment of facts is relatively straightforward, so please read Silverstein’s book and learn all about the battle of Manzikert, the 13th-century sacking of Baghdad, and the triumphs and tragedies that have helped to define one of the world’s great faiths. Knowledge can only help.