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Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms : Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East
by Gerard Russell


Overview - Despite its reputation for religious intolerance, the Middle East has long sheltered many distinctive and strange faiths: one regards the Greek prophets as incarnations of God, another reveres Lucifer in the form of a peacock, and yet another believes that their followers are reincarnated beings who have existed in various forms for thousands of years.  Read more...

 
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More About Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms by Gerard Russell
 
 
 
Overview
Despite its reputation for religious intolerance, the Middle East has long sheltered many distinctive and strange faiths: one regards the Greek prophets as incarnations of God, another reveres Lucifer in the form of a peacock, and yet another believes that their followers are reincarnated beings who have existed in various forms for thousands of years. These religions represent the last vestiges of the magnificent civilizations in ancient history: Persia, Babylon, Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. Their followers have learned how to survive foreign attacks and the perils of assimilation. But today, with the Middle East in turmoil, they face greater challenges than ever before.
In Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, former diplomat Gerard Russell ventures to the distant, nearly impassable regions where these mysterious religions still cling to survival. He lives alongside the Mandaeans and Ezidis of Iraq, the Zoroastrians of Iran, the Copts of Egypt, and others. He learns their histories, participates in their rituals, and comes to understand the threats to their communities. Historically a tolerant faith, Islam has, since the early 20th century, witnessed the rise of militant, extremist sects. This development, along with the rippling effects of Western invasion, now pose existential threats to these minority faiths. And as more and more of their youth flee to the West in search of greater freedoms and job prospects, these religions face the dire possibility of extinction.
Drawing on his extensive travels and archival research, Russell provides an essential record of the past, present, and perilous future of these remarkable religions.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780465030569
  • ISBN-10: 0465030564
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publish Date: October 2014
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 1.25 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Travel > Middle East - General
Books > Religion > History
Books > History > Middle East - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-10-20
  • Reviewer: Staff

This fascinating account of minority religions in the Middle East, many of which are threatened by increasingly turbulent political situations, is part travelogue and part scholarly overview. Russell, a former British diplomat in the region, uses his connections and experience as he travels in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and several other places to meet members of religious minorities such as the Druze, the Copts, the Mandaeans, and the Samaritans, and to study their history and traditions. He outlines basic facts and beliefs in addition to showing resonances and similarities between the religious cultures. By tying modern practice to historical context, Russell provides a valuable briefing on the ancient and medieval history of the region. He also muses on the immediate future of each community, particularly with respect to political instability and immigration, and his cheerfully personal tone makes all this information lively. This important and enjoyable glimpse into little-considered religious dynamics of the Middle East deserves to be widely read and distributed. (Nov.)

 
BAM Customer Reviews