The Book of Saladin – Islam Quintet II

Published by Verso, 1999

The second installment the epic five volume series of historical novels, The Islam Quintet

A rich and teeming chronicle set in twelfth-century Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem, 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 portray a complete picture of him in his memoirs. A series of nterconnected stories follow, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humour 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 favoured 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. It is a medieval story, but much of it will be cannily familiar to those who follow events in contemporary Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. Betrayed hopes, disillusioned soldiers and unreliable alliances form the backdrop to The Book of Saladin.

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Reviews:  Epic India

From the archive

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    September 17, 2001

    ‘A Political Solution is Required’ by Tariq Ali for The Nation, September 17, 2001

    On a trip to Pakistan a few years ago I was talking to a former general about the militant Islamist groups in the region. I asked him why these people, who had happily accepted funds and weapons from the United States throughout the cold war, had become violently anti-American overnight. He explained that they were not alone. Many Pakistani officers who had served the United States loyally from 1951 onward felt humiliated by Washington’s indifference.

    “Pakistan was the condom the Americans needed to enter Afghanistan,” he said. “We’ve served our purpose and they think we can be just flushed down the toilet.”

    The old condom is being fished out for use once again, but will it work? The new “coalition against terrorism” needs the  …

  • International Viewpoint reviews Rough Music

    March 1, 2006

    Rough Music reviewed by Fred LePlat for International Viewpoint, March 2006.

    Tariq Ali’s new short (100 pages) polemical book against New Labour is a must for every socialist. The book was written over the summer, so it is up to date with analysis on the “July days”, the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and the attacks on civil liberties.

    The actions and words of Blair in his un-ending war against terrorism are scrutinised with a forensic approach, and the hypocrisy the prime minister is laid bare with acerbic wit.

    Probably the most interesting part of the book is the description of the unfolding coup by Blair and Campbell against Greg Dyke and the BBC. If virtually all the newspapers supported uncritically Blair’s drive for war, the BBC felt it had to follow the unfolding events  …

  • ‘Beyond bin Laden’ – Tariq Ali on “Empire” on Al Jazeera

    May 4, 2011

    Watch Tariq Ali on the “Empire” show on Al Jazeera, ‘Beyond bin Laden.’

    Osama bin Laden is dead. The world’s most wanted man has finally been killed after a hunt that lasted more than a decade, triggered global wars, and cost the lives of tens of thousands of people.

    What does it mean for US wars in the Muslim world?But will this be the end of terrorism, or is al-Qaeda now a global franchise that will replicate itself no matter what has happened to its most famous founder?

    And will the US actions unleash a new wave of attacks around the world?

    Joining us to discuss these issues are: Tariq Ali, a historian, political activist and the author of The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad; Farwaz A. Gerges, a historian, the director of the Middle East Centre  …