Bernard Lewis dies: "Osama bin Laden made me famous," he once quipped

May 20, 2018

Bernard Lewis in 2002

 

BERNARD LEWIS DIES, A FEW DAYS SHORT OF HIS 102ND BIRTHDAY

[Note by Tom Gross]

Bernard Lewis, arguably the greatest Middle East scholar of modern times, passed away yesterday, Saturday, May 19, in New Jersey, at age 101.

Lewis was born in London on May 31, 1916, at the height of World War I, a war which resulted in the fall of the Ottoman empire and the rise of modern nation states in the Middle East.

He published his first scholarly article in 1937, and over subsequent decades became what many leading Middle East experts – not just western ones, but Arab, Persian and Turkish ones – regarded as the world’s preeminent Middle East scholar.

As Jay Nordlinger noted: “One year, a book of Bernard’s was published in Hebrew translation – by the Israeli defense ministry. That same book was published in Arabic – by the Muslim Brotherhood. … Some former students of Bernard’s refer to him as ‘the Imam.’ I know just what they mean.”

However, it was only after the 9/11 attacks that his books became bestsellers. “Osama bin Laden made me famous,” he once quipped.

Lewis until a few years ago subscribed to this “Middle East dispatch list” and I feel honoured that he told me he found items in it of interest to him.

Here are links to two dispatches I ran in 2016 on the occasion of his 100th birthday:

* Bernard Lewis at 100: Defying conventional wisdom, being proved right

* “Some former students of Bernard’s refer to him as ‘the Imam.’ I know just what they mean”

 

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