ACOM Book Club for September 2022

ACOM Book Club Sept 2022The ACOM Book Club met at Mim's on Thursday, September 15, 2022. Attendees were Azad, Francis, Tashina, Margaret, Jim, Bradley and me. This month's book was "Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes" by Tamim Ansary.
Almost everyone greatly enjoyed the book. Margaret expressed the opinion that it was too much just straight history and so she found it a little bit too dry.
I liked the author's breakdown of the ancient world into three regions:
- the Mediterranean World where the primary communication was by sea, so it included all the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the land areas close by those shores.
- the Far Eastern World, or China, which was bounded by the ocean to the east, the southeast Asian jungles, the Tibetan mountains and the Gobi Desert.
- the Middle World which was bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Black & Caspian Seas and Caucasus mountains to the north, the Indian Ocean and Indus River to the south, and the Tibetan mountains and Gobi Desert to the east. For the Middle World, the primary means of communication was overland travel.

The Mediterranean World largely ended up being a Christian area and its history is what is normally spoken of as "Western Civilization". The Middle World was largely taken over by Islam.

I also liked the way that the author provided detail into many ancient empires. In history we learn about the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, but the author pointed out that after the Sumerians established their civilization at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, they were conquered by the Akkadians, who were then conquered by another tribe which established the Babylonian Empire, which was conquered by the Assyrians who established their empire, but were then conquered by a different group which established a second Babylonian Empire. In a similar fashion we learn in history about the Persian Empire, but there were actually either four or five separate racial groups which invaded that area in succession and established empires.
Francis enjoyed the stories of the early days of Islam and compared a lot of the comments with what he heard while growing up in Iran.
Jim felt that the book opened him up to views of history that he hadn't been exposed to before.
Azad talked about the fact that Mohammad wasn't very well educated and his Arabic was not very good, especially when writing. Large parts of the Koran are composed of his writings and, rather than edit his words to be grammatically correct, the definition of the Arabic language was modified to allow his writing to be considered correct.
Tashina liked the little tidbits of historical information that she learned from the book.
We talked about how the book does a very good job of defining the origin of the split between the Shiites and the Sunnis in Islam. I thought that it also did a very good job of describing exactly what the Wahhabi sect of Islam is.
I'll terminate my comments here. We all agreed that we can recommend this book as a good one to read.
Next month the book for discussion will be "The House By the Lake" by Thomas Harding, with the meeting being organized by Francis.
I hope to see many of you there.

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