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  • Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence
  • Robert E. Lerner (bio)
Zachary Karabell, Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence (New York: Knopf, 2007), 343 pp.

Not Samuel Huntington but Maureen Dowd has written recently that “history has shown the hardest thing on earth is three faiths sharing.” Karabell offers plentiful examples from the past to contradict this view. Religious hatred is not fated. We seldom find realms, it is true, to gratify Nathan the Wise, who wanted members of different faiths to value commonalities and live together in respectful tolerance. Instead the more customary “let live” pattern resembles a modern apartment building where families hardly know each other except for meetings [End Page 497] in the elevator. Much of this book is about the Ottomans, who were often very nasty, but seldom so on religious grounds; for them, pluralism was simply more practical than policing. Even today, the sheikhs of Dubai, for hardheaded business reasons, maintain pluralistic apartment houses. As the Ottomans wore their Islam lightly, so Karabell wears his impressive learning; and as the sheikhs of Dubai are hardheaded, so this author keeps a level head.

Robert E. Lerner

Robert E. Lerner is Ritzma Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University and author of The Feast of Saint Abraham, The Heresy of the Free Spirit in the Later Middle Ages, The Age of Adversity, and The Powers of Prophecy. His books have appeared in a half-dozen European and East Asian translations.



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pp. 497-498
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