Destiny Disrupted

Disrupted DestinyWorld history is not a chronological list of every damned thing that ever happened. It’s the narrative of how “we” got to where we are today. The shape of the narrative depends, therefore, on who is telling story and where they feel they are today.   Destiny Disrupted, A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes takes, as its point of departure, the following question: what are the key events of world history and the shape of the overall story if one assumes that the center of the world is not Europe but the Islamic heartland? Following from this premise, it sets forth a provocative “alternative” history of the world that is as compellingly readable as any novel. Destiny Disrupted won the Northern California Book Award for Best General Nonfiction of 2009, and it has been translated into nine languages , including Russian, Dutch, Indonesian, Korean, and Italian.

To buy Destiny Disrupted, go here.


“I’m in the middle of Tamim Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes, and it’s incredibly illuminating. Ansary pretty much covers the entire history of Islam in an incredibly readable and lucid way. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know. Especially when people are looking for a comprehensive-but-approachable way to look at world history through the lens of Islam, there’s no better book.”
–Dave Eggers, What Is the What

“[The fire] was roaring nicely, and I was seated not far from it, reading “Destiny Disrupted” by Tamim Ansary, which is the perfect book for someone who knows hardly anything about the history of the Muslim world and feels that, really, what with things the way they are, a little more attention to detail would be useful. It’s one of those “fascinating new fact every paragraph” books. Would you like to know how the Shiite-Sunni schism happened? It’s all here. Rumi the poet? He’s here. Empires, sultanates, wars, atrocities, cities of great beauty now lost forever, the whole deal. Even the chapters on theology are enjoyable, and I’m not big on the minutiae of belief systems.”
–Jon Carroll, Columnist

“Tamim Ansary has written a truly superb history of the Islamic world. His excellent analysis provides the reader with an insightful understanding of how that world and its people were shaped by events. This is a must read for all those who want to understand the evolution of a significant global society and how it has interacted with the rest of the world.”
–General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret)

“If you want to put today’s headlines about jihadist suicide bombings into the much larger context of history, you’d be well advised to settle in with “Destiny Disrupted.” It’s the story of a civilization that suddenly found itself upended by strangers and now wants to put itself right. And if author Ansary stops short of calling the result a clash of civilizations, he feels free to call it two one-sided views of world history. His book is a valuable tool for opening up a view of the other side.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Never apologist in tone, meticulously researched and balanced, often amusing but never glib, Destiny Disrupted is ultimately a gripping drama that pulls the reader into great, seminal events of world history, a book which offers a wealth of knowledge and insight to any reader who wants to understand the movements and events behind the modern-day hostilities wracking Western and Islamic societies.”
–Portland Oregonian

For an insightful review of Destiny Disrupted, go to Matt Luedke’s blog here.

6 Responses to Destiny Disrupted

  1. Ravyn T November 29, 2016 at 6:07 PM #

    Dear Mr. Tamim Ansary,
    My class and I are currently reading “Destiny Disrupted” in our AP World History class. I was wondering as you are the author what were the deciding factors that made you have certain events in each of your chapters. I also have another question, you did make your point across on why the book was written but would you say it was mostly for yourself, more for the people of the Islamic religion that are so poorly represented in history, or both?

  2. Jacopo August 15, 2016 at 11:56 PM #

    I found Destiny Disrupted a very interesting and personally enriching book. However I also found a serious mistake in it. The author traces the origin of the tile of Marco Polo’s book “The Million” to the ‘pack of lies’ present in the book which led people to call ‘the Million’ as the lies therein amount to one million at least. It is surprising that, given the quality of the book, the author could commit such mistake. The name “Million” derives from the name ‘Emilione’ (or ‘Milionus’ in latin). Such name was the second name of the Polo family and references to this name are found in official documents of the Venetian Republic. It is widely known fact that Marco’s father Niccolo’ used also the second family name in official document (the Italian Institute of Geography De Agostini discovered this document and gave full account of it). The book was also know in the early stages as ‘Livre de Marco Polo citoyen de Venis, dit Million, où l’on conte les merveilles du monde’ (transl. “The book of Marco Polo citizen of Venice, also called Milion, where the wonders of the World are accounted’). The use of French language should not surprise as the book was initially written in the ‘Langues d’oil’. I cannot draw any logical conclusion as to what is the basis for Mr. Ansary statement regarding the title of Marco Polo’s book (Million = pack of lies), except that it seems like the author elected to rely on a simplistic inductive approach and personal speculation to explain the title of the book rather than carrying out a proper historic research. The Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta is often mentioned as the Marco Polo of the Middle World. He gave full account of his journey in the book Rihla. Tim Mackintosh-Smith paid homage to the North African writer by writing 3 books after he travelled in the same territories visited by Ibn Battuta centuries ago. Verifying hypothesis and conclusions is always important when writing about history. Eventually this comment will lead to a review and revision of these few lines of Destiny Disrupted which really seem out of place compared to the rest of the book.

  3. jean bradbury May 14, 2014 at 8:31 AM #

    I just finished Destiny Disrupted (audio book) and immediately started it again. I am of European heritage but I teach art and creative thinking in Jordan so I am constantly wondering about the differences in cultures, values and histories. Your book is a tonic.

    Have you heard about this festival in Spain that appeared in Al Jazeera today? I thought you might find it of interest. It is a reenactment of a battle between Christians and Muslims.

    Thank you for your work. It is helping me a great deal.

  4. Teri Foley-Nrlson September 6, 2013 at 7:11 AM #

    Just beginning your book Destiny Interrupted…very excited. We must look at the world through the eyes of those who have had different experiences than we have. I truly believe that the more we are able to see as others do and connect with those perceptions, them the less likely we will be to want to go to war against them. Thanks for writing this book


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