This blog was originally designed to keep me sane as I began learning Arabic. It morphed into a blog of musings about Arabic, the Middle East, and the Islamic World, as well as book reviews about those topics. Then, the blog became a place to keep my family and friends updated on my adventures while I was living abroad. During May and June of 2012, I had a 6-week long internship in Cairo, Egypt through a international student organization called AIESEC. I taught English at the Awladi Orphanage in Cairo, home to several hundred children. I lived in an apartment in Nasr City before moving to Maadi (each is a distinct area of Cairo). I experienced President Mursi's election, camped in the western desert, rode camels by the pyramids, and had countless other experiences. I have since moved past this blog, on towards new endeavors, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Destiny Disrupted

In preparation for my Middle Eastern history classes, I went into Border's with the idea that I would pick up a solid, interesting history of the area to read during my trip to Europe. I, being an entirely indecisive individual, sat on the floor between the "World History" and the "Sexual Health" shelves to contemplate the single row of books about the Middle East. (The fact that they can fill up shelves of books about sex, but only have one shelf dedicated to the history of a region that has had such an impact on the modern world is really beyond me).

After about 30 minutes of reading the covers of each book and laying each of my favorites on the floor next to me, I had a ring of books circling me like flower petals. After 45 minutes, my boyfriend came over to help me decide (I was making him late for watching some sports game or another). After talking about it, I decided that I wanted to read a history that wasn't so cut and dry that it would put me to sleep on our long rides through Scandinavia. I also wanted a book by someone who had actually LIVED in the Middle East. Somehow, reading a book written by a Harvard scholar with no practical experience among Middle Eastern people has no appeal to me. Finally, I settled on this book: Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary.

Ansary, someone familiar with both East and West, took a wonderful approach in writing this book. He explains that there are two narratives of world history: the world from the western perspective and the world from the "eastern" perspective (not including the Far East). He explains that even our notion of what is "west" and what is "east" is different (everything is relative, is it not?). Anyways, it is such a great book, really touching on the main topics that have influenced the Islamic world. I highly recommend it!

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