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

Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East

byGerard Russell

Paperback | December 1, 2015

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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.

InHeirs 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.

Gerard Russellis a Senior Associate at the Foreign Policy Centre in London and a Senior Consultant at Quiller Consultants. A former British and UN diplomat, he served for fifteen years throughout the Middle East. Russell is a member of the Order of the British Empire and lives in London.
Title:Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle EastFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:December 1, 2015Publisher:Basic BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0465049915

ISBN - 13:9780465049912

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I've read This is a most informative book. If you like to learn something on every page, this is for you. This is so pertinent to today's Middle East. Not just Sunni and Shias, but Samaritans (first to populate what is now Israel), Zoroastrians in Persia (now Iran), Yazidis and many, many more obscure and little-known sects living in the Middle East. I recommend this book to all who want to know more about the mysterious Middle East and its fascinating history.
Date published: 2017-03-11

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rory Stewart
Map of the Forgotten Kingdoms

Chapter 1: Mandaeans
Chapter 2. Yazidis
Chapter 3. Zoroastrians
Chapter 4. Druze
Chapter 5. Samaritans
Chapter 6. Copts
Chapter 7. Kalasha
Epilogue: Detroit

Editorial Reviews

Bookforum“A nation-hopping guidebook to the theology and customs of believers who can't fully inhabit the imaginations of many Western readers without a proper introduction.... Engaging and informative.... Russell introduces a cast of characters who, even when offering cagey responses to his earnest questions, humanize groups that news reports tend to treat as extras on the world stage.”The National“Gerard Russell, a former British diplomat who has served throughout the region, is a worthy successor to the great British Arabists of the past, passionately interested in the area and its people.... Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms is informative, thought-provoking and timely. It provides fascinating insights into the mosaic of religious beliefs that can be found throughout the Middle East, and also into how that diversity emerged and survived. Eschewing discussion of modern politics, it presents a challenge, nevertheless, to those who bear the responsibility for how this diversity can be preserved in the years to come. All humanity will be the loser should it disappear.”Shelf Awareness for Readers“An important and engaging book for anyone interested in the Middle East.”