Deemed "the most influential postwar historian of Islam and the Middle East" (Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing), Bernard Lewis served in Britain's Foreign Office, was chair of Near and Middle Eastern History at the University of London, and has written more than 30 books since 1940. He came to the attention of most Americans after the 9/11 attacks, when his seminal histories What Went Wrong? and Crisis of Islam suddenly became bestsellers, yet he had coined the term "clash of civilizations" in the 1950s, when few could have imagined that political Islam would one day eclipse communism as a challenge to the West. Here Lewis assays his own prodigious and controversial career as a scholar of the Arab and Ottoman worlds, and answers his critics with clear-eyed wit.
"Lewis has led a staggeringly productive life—publishing a jaw-dropping 32 books—and seems to have had more fun than any department worth of more somber professors.... We are fortunate to have this chatty memoir of reminiscences of scholarly discovery and stimulating encounters with everyone from Isaac Stern to Scoop Jackson to the shah of Iran."—Washington Post