Historian Bernard Lewis, whose influential books shaped generations of Middle East scholars but whose views stirred fierce passions, died at an assisted living facility on Saturday, The Washington Post reported. He was 101.
Lewis, who was born in London and was a longtime professor at Princeton University, was a Cold War hawk, a strong pro-Israel Jew, and influential among White House and Pentagon planners of the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.
His books included “The Arabs in History” (1950), “The Emergence of Modern Turkey” (1961), and “The Crisis of Islam” (2003).
Critics, however, derided what they said was his Eurocentric “clash of civilizations” view of the Middle East.
“For some, I'm the towering genius,” Lewis told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012, according to the Post. “For others, I'm the devil incarnate.”
One critic, the late Columbia University Middle East expert Edward Said, slammed Lewis as “active policy scientist, lobbyist and propagandist” in a 1982 reply to Lewis in the New York Review of Books.
Lewis in turn accused Said — author of the influential book “Orientalism” (1978) — of unleashing an “unsavory mixture of sneer and smear, bluster and innuendo.”