The New World of Islam
by Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1921. 8vo, 362 pp. $3.00.. New York:
NORTHERN AFRICA and Southwestern Asia, the stretch of territory from, roughly, Morocco to China, is a region which has acquired a wholly new interest for Occidental peoples during the past ten years. Few realize, perhaps, that this is precisely the territory which forms the Moslem w orld — a solid block of more than two hundred million followers of the Prophet. But the Great War has brought strange dramatic figures out of these little-known regions, voicing new and strange but insistent claims, which already have arrested the attention and modified the plans of Occidental statesmen, and the West deserves to know something of the background and meaning of these claims.
Anyone who has tried to satisfy this desire will welcome appreciatively the work that Mr. Stoddard has done in his New World of Islam. He has presented there, in compact and readable form, material widely scattered and difficult of access, and has given us what did not exist before in any language: a short, concise account of the modern Mohammedan world and its reaction to the invasion of the West.
In a brief, brilliantly written introduction, he traces the rise of Islam, its rapid and complete conquest of the Oriental world, the fine flowering of its spirit under Arab leadership, its slow decline and final lapse into a lethargy and stagnation which lasted five hundred years, until the Mohammedan Revival of the nineteenth century created the ‘new Islam’ of the present.
How the ‘Mohammedan Revival’ began and developed, and how out of it emerged the movement known as ‘Pan-Islamic Nationalism’; what it all means, and may mean, not only for the East but for the West as well, is the story Mr. Stoddard’s book tells, and tells exceedingly well.
Mr. Stoddard has the journalist’s feeling for a ‘story,’ and the journalist’s flair for what the public wants to know. But Mr. Stoddard is also an historian. He is careful in checking up his facts, he does not jump to conclusions, but weighs his evidence, judges with caution, and, where the evidence seems inconclusive, suspends judgment.
Perhaps the chief fault of the book is its lack of atmosphere. One misses the sense that the writer is at home with the people and the lands of which he writes, and the freedom that comes from such a background.
But, not with standing, the book is a very useful and trustworthy introduction to a subject little known.
JULIA SWIFT ORVIS.