PRESS & PRAISE
"Many Westerners think the world would be safer if it were less Muslim, more Western. And in the Middle East and beyond, many Muslims are horrified by our arrogance; a tiny minority respond with violence. Yet the so-called clash of civilizations, as Zachary Karabell’s important new book demonstrates, draws strength from a profoundly partial reading of history. Peace Be Upon You is a polemic in the service of peace — readable, accessible and, maybe, indispensable."
— The New York Times | read full review >
"Conventional wisdom says that Christians, Jews and Muslims cannot get along and have never gotten along; the Crusades, the Inquisition and September 11 have all fueled the flames of constant religious intolerance. In a pedantic and frustrating study, journalist Karabell challenges this view by pointing to numerous but little-known periods of peaceful coexistence among the three religions. For example, he points to John of Damascus's condemnation of Islam as a Christian heresy as a powerful indication of the close connection between the two faiths in the early Middle Ages. During the Crusades, Christian rulers often adopted the policies of the Muslim governments they had supplanted, while in the 19th century, some Muslim nations attempted to emulate the progress of Europe and to coexist more peacefully with European nations. Karabell points to Dubai as an area in which such ironic coexistence still occurs and wonders whether Dubai holds the key to the future. Regrettably, the moments of peaceful coexistence are hard to spot in Karabell's narrative, since the largest portions are occupied with the ways that Christians, Jews and Muslims have failed to get along."
— Publishers Weekly | read full review >
"Against the clash-of-civilizations model, prolific writer Karabell reminds readers that there was a time when monotheisms coexisted in relative peace."
— Kirkus Reviews | read full review >
"Peace Be Upon You is a welcome and important contribution to this historical phase that lies ahead. The book presents an overview of the relations among Muslims, Christians and Jews since the time of Muhammad. As such, it should be required reading for congressmen who must vote on billions for a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis or presidential candidates who vie for the chance to preside over a postwar America."
— Washington Post | read full review >
"The beautifully written, passionately argued book Peace Be Upon You sets out to offer a much-needed corrective on the history of relations between the adherents of three monotheistic religions, those fraternal descendants of Abraham: Jews, Christians and Muslims."
— The Los Angeles Times | read full review >
"Historians have so often focused on religious conflict--crusades, jihads, pogroms--that Karabell fears many readers have forgotten how often the devout have lived in peace with those of different faiths. To dispel this unfortunate forgetfulness, he develops a wide-ranging narrative highlighting epochs of interfaith toleration and cooperation. Readers visit, for instance, ninth-century Baghdad, where a Muslim caliph invited Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist theologians to compare beliefs; later, the tour moves on to thirteenth-century Toledo, where Muslims, Jews, and Christians collaborated in translating important classical texts; and, still later, Karabell turns to mid-twentieth-century Beirut, where disparate religions hammered out a national pact for sharing governance. Karabell concedes that some regimes have pursued ecumenical harmony merely to secure economic and political advantage, but he insists that such harmony actually reflects peace-fostering doctrines central to all of the Abrahamic faiths. Applying such doctrines, Karabell concedes, has grown more difficult in a modern world transformed by the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism. But he understands that Fundamentalists can pursue their bloody aims only by reducing the past to a litany of grievances crying out for vengeance. A book restoring to that past the complexities of peace and cooperation greatly enhances the prospects for the future."
"In today’s political climate a book about Jewish, Christian, and Muslim coexistence should arouse everyone’s curiosity. Peace Be Upon You satisfies your curiosity and cures any illusions about true coexistence as it takes the reader historical roads where these three religions and great cultures actually intersect."
— Jewish Book Council read full review >
"This is an intelligent and continuously interesting book, the central argument persuasively developed."
— The Telegraph | read full review >
"Focusing on “forgotten” history, Karabell briskly recounts how Muslims, Jews and Christians have long cooperated, from the dawn of Islam to today. He describes life in multicultural societies in ancient Baghdad and Jerusalem, recounts intellectual exchanges between Muslim and Jewish scholars in 12th-century Spain and shows how intellectuals in 19th-century Egypt sought to re-establish the links between Islam and science."
— Twin Cities Pioneer Press | read full review >
"Karabell isn't the first writer to point to a history of co-operation between the faiths, but he differs from some others in one respect. He is unromantic. The glorious periods of tolerance cannot be simply resurrected: the conditions under which they flourished no longer exist. Neither is Karabell a utopian. What he offers is a vision of sane, secular pluralism; of communities united by common economic interest. This might not be as glamorous as Moorish Spain or Ottoman Turkey, nor as dramatic as a world riven by sectarian hatred, but it's a sight more likely than the first, and infinitely preferable to the second."
— The Independent | read full review >
"This accessibly written book serves as a counterweight to those who would manipulate history for competing contemporary purposes that only fuel intolerance."
— The Montreal Gazette | read full review >
"[Karabell] does not ignore the darker side of this long and complex history...he does not seek to deny the recurrent carnage or cruelty. All he wants us to remember is that, for every instance of violence or prejudice, there was a moment of enlightened encounter or mutual respect."
— The Tablet | read full review >
Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Conflict and Cooperation
In a narrative that is at once thoughtful and passionate, an award-winning historian reveals the history of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews over the course of fourteen centuries until the present day.
The harsh reality of religious conflict is daily news, and the rising tensions between the West and Islam show no signs of abating. However, the relationship between Muslims, Christians, and Jews has not always been marked with animosity; there is also a deep and nuanced history of peace. From the court of caliphs in ancient Baghdad, where scholars engaged in spirited debate, to present-day Dubai, where members of each faith work side by side, Karabell traces the forgotten legacy of tolerance and cooperation these three monotheistic religions have enjoyed—a legacy that will be vital in any attempt to find common ground and reestablish peace.