Sacred Interests

The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921

By Karine V. Walther

480 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4558-2
    Published: August 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-2539-3
    Published: September 2015
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2540-9
    Published: September 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4948-9
    Published: September 2015

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Awards & distinctions

A 2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Americans increasingly came into contact with the Islamic world, U.S. diplomatic, cultural, political, and religious beliefs about Islam began to shape their responses to world events. In Sacred Interests, Karine V. Walther excavates the deep history of American Islamophobia, showing how negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims shaped U.S. foreign relations from the Early Republic to the end of World War I.

Beginning with the Greek War of Independence in 1821, Walther illuminates reactions to and involvement in the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the efforts to protect Jews from Muslim authorities in Morocco, American colonial policies in the Philippines, and American attempts to aid Christians during the Armenian Genocide. Walther examines the American role in the peace negotiations after World War I, support for the Balfour Declaration, and the establishment of the mandate system in the Middle East. The result is a vital exploration of the crucial role the United States played in the Islamic world during the long nineteenth century--an interaction that shaped a historical legacy that remains with us today.

About the Author

Karine Walther is an Assistant Professor of History at the School of Foreign Service in Qatar. She holds a PhD in history from Columbia University, a Maîtrise and Licence in Sociology from the University of Paris VIII and a BA in American Studies from the University of Texas, Austin.
For more information about Karine V. Walther, visit the Author Page.


"An excellent, detailed and well-constructed introduction to an important subject."--Times Literary Supplement

“[A] superb book. . . . Provides a deeper understanding of U.S. approaches to the Islamic world. Highly recommended.”--Choice

"Its transnational breadth, refined scope, and authorial care make Sacred Interests essential reading for scholars and students of race, religion, and empire."--Journal of American History

“A powerful book about the ways in which many nineteenth-century Americans sought to convert and reform, colonize and control Muslims throughout the world.”--Diplomatic History

“Walther’s excellent new study is the first overview of American relations with the Islamic World in the years between the Barbary Wars and world War II.”--Review of Middle East Studies

“An important study that deserves to be widely read. . . . Walther has uncovered the ideological and rhetorical foundations of the recrudescent Islamophobia today.”--American Historical Review

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