||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Sunday, January 05, 2014
House of War in process again
This is four stars - and I have cause to celebrate here. The earlier review (also 4/5), whilst I appreciate it greatly, is asterisked on account that that reviewer was and is a personal friend - and, more to the point, a "QA guy" for the text itself (which I acknowledged in the text). This recent reviewer Ulrich, by contrast, is someone I don't know at all except through Amazon. He has gone through the text impartially and thoroughly. So his review is something I'd even wish to blurb - which I suppose I am doing right here.
Which is not to concede every point laid out in this review [update 4/22/2014: but I'll keep fixing what I can]. Still, Ulrich's overall critique, and the point for which I will concede that coveted fifth star in every review I get, must stand. Every reader who has contacted me has said the same thing: I never did figure out how to write this book, such that it would appeal to a general audience. Since that was one of this book's aims, I cannot claim it as a 90+% success (which is what 5/5 means, if it means anything at all). Also I get the impression that he has been kind with his rating: when Ulrich hands out threes, they are "gentleman Cs". I think he's given me the benefit of the doubt.
All this raises the possibility that this book could attract some additional attention (its last sale was 16 December) - in particular, "an academic response". That version which Ulrich reviewed was out in mid-May last year and, well, I have been busy since then. I don't think the academic reviewers will be so forgiving. So I have felt the need to put out that third-edition I've been hinting at here and there.
The most obvious change is the addition of last summer's "The Prophets' Call" essay to the appendices. I am also adding Bernard Lewis's insights into the old Hijaz (now that I have Lewis's book, which I did not before). Hasan al-Kalbi's direct connexion to the Sufyani family is played up - hinting at some early Machiavellianism on the part of Marwan. To balance out these affirmations of conventional-wisdom, are some pullbacks of same: the "Mardaites" are no longer integral to the text, and the argument no longer takes sides as to the dates of Ali's death and of Karbala. So you know, I didn't inline the newer essay "Return to the Garden"; but I did at least point to it in "Keys to the Garden". And I have fixed the index page which, frankly, needed it.
UPDATE 1/6, 5:30 AM - the book is available again.
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