In Ishmael's House


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A History of Jews in Muslim Lands

Martin Gilbert

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A powerful account of Jews living in Muslim lands and the surprising truths about their shared history

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 peoples 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

"Gilbert explores the relationship between Jews and Muslims from the 7th century to the present day. A valuable, balanced contribution."—Iain Finlayson, The Times

"This is a book for those who want on their shelf, ready to hand, the facts on the Jews in Muslim lands, from the days of Mohammad himself, a vivid chapter as related here, to the Arab-Israel conflict of the present day. With Sir Martin Gilbert's excellent maps and clear readable prose, this saga is both a reliable source and a pleasure to read."—Herman Wouk

"[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

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

"With a comprehensive yet accessible approach, Gilbert scrutinizes the roles that Muslims and Jews have played and continue to play in the Middle East, and the impact of this on the world, unearthing the ongoing struggles these religions have faced over their 1400 years of shared history."—Publishers Weekly

"A complex story that offers a template for the future."—Ham & High Wood & Vale

"An intensely moving new perspective on the world’s most intractable conflict."—David Harounoff, Tribune

"The book is a triumph of truth over propaganda, and will make a valuable contribution to restoring Jews to the history books of the Middle East."—Lyn Julius, Jewish Chronicle

"Essential reading."—Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sunday Telegraph

'... a solid and balanced ... clear-eyed account of the conflict that prompted Muhammad to impose dhimma status on the Jews.' — The Economist

'[This] account of the slow burning tragedy of the extinction of Jewish communities in the Arab world is moving and important.  It should be read.' — Robert Irwin, The Independent

"Martin Gilberts outstanding In Ishmael’s House is essential reading."—Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Sunday Telegraph

"Gilbert has written a useful and relatively popular addition to a growing body of scholarly and legal literature on the plight of the Arab Jews who were displaced in the mid-20th century. This is a must read for those who are interested in an intelligent study of a little-known facet of the refugee problems that have beset Jewish societies in the past three generations."—Steven Bowman, Christian Century

"Gilbert has done what he does best, create a model reference work that is sure to remain a standard for years to come."—Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post

“This book should be required reading for anyone who views Middle Eastern politics in black-and-white terms.”—Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
ISBN: 9780300177985
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
448 pages, 5 7/8 x 9
30 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World, except for Canada