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The Book of Saladin by Tariq Ali
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The Book of Saladin (1998)

by Tariq Ali

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Great historical novel, horribly edited in this edition though ( )
  borhap | Aug 27, 2013 |
The Book of Saladin is a novel about the life of Yusaf Salah-ad-din Ibn Ayyub, known as Saladin to the Franks or Crusaders. Saladin has brought a Jewish scribe into his life for the singular purpose of writing down his memoirs. The book details his life by allowing us to hear his stories as he dictates to his scribe.

We follow not only the life of Saladin, but the life of those closest to him and the scribe as well. Thus we are given a great overview of the Muslim world from the politics and intrigues of the day, to life in and around the palaces of this sultan. Of course, the one burning issue for Saladin was the eviction of the Franks from the mid-east, especially the regaining of Jerusalem for the “True Believers”.

I found this an educational and enlightening read. The author manages to convey to the reader the thoughts, feelings and purpose of a Arab leader who dominated his world. The history of the Crusades is varied and covers hundreds of years. This book manages to shed light on one of the most interesting characters from the 12th century. The only drawback for me, was that the book felt very detached, more like a history textbook than a novel. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Apr 15, 2010 |
Using a fictional narrator in the form of the great Sultan's scribe, Tariq Ali pieces together a brilliant mosaic of the life of the Saladin (Salah al-Din or if you prefer, Yusuf al-ud-Dn Ysuf ibn Ayyb). The Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub, is meant to faithfully record everything the Sultan says and does. Given that Salah al-Din is about to embark on the 12th century jihad to expel the 'Franj' (their term for the Franks or Crusaders) from al-Kuds (Jerusalem), the scribe finds himself witness to many great events; war councils, battles, celebrations, and sorrows.

Salah al-Din also spins out his life's story from a wild Kurdish boyhood in Tikrit, through his uncle's rise to power under Nur-ad-Din, and the Sultan's own gradual consolidation of power. The tale is given added spice by his (fictional) great friend and counselor Shadhi, who adds some bawdy details that the Sultan omits. The book explores life in and around the Sultan's court and includes several historical characters such as the Sultan's brothers and nephews, and the scholar-poet and official secretary Imad Al Din. Of necessity Ali invents the female characters, in particular, Halima and Jalima, two members of the harem, but their portrayal rings true.

Ali's book is not a history of the battles - descriptions of fighting are generally sparse. Instead, Ali concentrates on the preoccupations of the Sultan and his inner circle - their thinking, feeling, and talking about jihad, food, sex, religion. The Sultan eventually bemoans the fickle devotion to the jihad of the Islamic peoples and their leaders.

A wonderfully readable book of an important figure and time in history. That the story is told from the Muslim view only makes it all the more valuable to Western readers. ( )
  dougwood57 | Dec 28, 2009 |
Showing 3 of 3
Roman Tarika Alija bogata je i raskošna hronika čija se radnja odvija u dvanaestom veku, u Kairu, Damasku i Jerusalim. Knjiga o saladinu predstavlja izmišljene memoare Saladina, Kurda koji je oslobodio Jerusalim od krstaša, koji svoja sećanja u pero kazuje Jevrejinu Ibn Jakubu, ličnom pisaru. Saladin dopušta Ibn Jakubu da razgovara sa njegovom ženom i slugama kako bi u memoarima mogao da prikaže celovit sultanov portret. Sledi čitav niz međusobno povezanih priča, pripovesti prepunih topline, sočnog humora i strasti, u kojima se ideali sudaraju sa stvarnošću, a želje brkaju sa snovima. U središtu radnje nalazi se dirljiva ljubavna priča između sultanove najdraže žene Džamile i prelepe Halime, koja je kasnije dospela u harem. Roman opisuje uspon Saladina do sultana Egipta i Sirije i prati njegove pripreme da, u savezu sa podanicima hrišćanima i Jevrejima, povrati Jerusalim od krstaša.
added by Sensei-CRS | editknjigainfo.com
 
Roman Tarika Alija bogata je i raskošna hronika čija se radnja odvija u dvanaestom veku, u Kairu, Damasku i Jerusalim. Knjiga o saladinu predstavlja izmišljene memoare Saladina, Kurda koji je oslobodio Jerusalim od krstaša, koji svoja sećanja u pero kazuje Jevrejinu Ibn Jakubu, ličnom pisaru. Saladin dopušta Ibn Jakubu da razgovara sa njegovom ženom i slugama kako bi u memoarima mogao da prikaže celovit sultanov portret. Sledi čitav niz međusobno povezanih priča, pripovesti prepunih topline, sočnog humora i strasti, u kojima se ideali sudaraju sa stvarnošću, a želje brkaju sa snovima. U središtu radnje nalazi se dirljiva ljubavna priča između sultanove najdraže žene Džamile i prelepe Halime, koja je kasnije dospela u harem. Roman opisuje uspon Saladina do sultana Egipta i Sirije i prati njegove pripreme da, u savezu sa podanicima hrišćanima i Jevrejima, povrati Jerusalim od krstaša.
added by Sensei-CRS | editknjigainfo.com
 

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For Robin Blackburn
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I have not thought of our old home for many years. It is a long time now since the fire.
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Book description
The Book of Saladin is the fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem, as dictated to a Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub. Saladin grants Ibn Yakub permission to talk to his wife and retainers so that he might present a full portrait in the Sultan's memoirs. A series of interconnected stories follows, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humor and passions in which ideals clash with realities and dreams are confounded by desires.

At the heart of the novel is an affecting love affair between the Sultan's favored wife, Jamila, and the beautiful Halima, a later addition to the harem. The novel charts the rise of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria and follows him as he prepares, in alliance with his Jewish and Christian subjects, to take Jerusalem back from the Crusaders. This is a medieval story, but much of it will be uncannily familiar to those who follow events in contemporary Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad. Betrayed hopes, disillusioned soldiers and unrealistic alliances form the backdrop to The Book of Saladin.
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A novel on the crusades from the Moslem point of view. The hero is the desert warrior, Saladin, who became sultan of Egypt and retook Jerusalem from the Christians in 1187. A tale of international intrigue and romance by a British writer, author of Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree.… (more)

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