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Europe and Islam 1st Edition

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631226376
ISBN-10: 0631226370
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Cardini (medieval history, Univ. of Florence, Italy) here examines the nature of the contacts between Islam and Europe, how these contacts have changed or not changed over the centuries, and why they occurred in the first place. Cardini's book is part of a larger multipublisher endeavor that seeks to examine the ongoing process of the making, or evolution, of 21st-century Europe. The continent has contained a large Muslim minority for centuries, but prior to the 15th century, Muslims were largely found in the Iberian Peninsula. Since then, this population has spread throughout southeastern Europe. Cardini concentrates on Mediterranean Islam (Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa), as this is the form of Islam that most Europeans have had contact with. His look at the attitudes and prejudices that have informed the interactions between these two communities will help form the basis from which a more complete understanding can evolve. This book should prove useful to both specialists and general readers; highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"This volume covers much ground: Western (mis)understandings of Islam, efforts to refute Islam, and latterly, to study it more objectively. Lucid and subtle ... recommended for undergraduates and above." Choice <!--end-->

"Europe and Islam is one of the titles in Blackwell's fine series the Making of Europe ... this is one of the rare treatments covering the expanse of 1,400 years of Islamic history in a single volume ... a worthy introduction to the topic of contacts between the Western world and Muslims." History: Reviews of New Books

"Europe and Islam is an interesting, readable text. It is perfect for university seminars in that it provides an overview of the history of the Christian-Muslim encounters and is sure to generate discussion and debate. And specialists will want to have a copy on their bookshelves as a reference..." Islam and Christian-Muslim relations

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (July 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631226370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631226376
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,364,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Franco Cardini manages to synthesize 1400 years of interaction between Europe and the Muslim world in one, handy tome. Despite its shortcomings (and they are noticeable) the book is a useful addition to anyone already initiated into the field of Middle East history -- this is not a book for consumption by the uninformed.
Despite a glaringly unsatisfactory bibliography, most of the facts in the book are sound. Every page is crammed with detail, and it's hardly worth taking notes from this book, as one's notes are likely to be as long as the book itself! Cardini generally avoids "fluff", and sticks to the matter at hand pedantically well. This is not a grandly-written narrative, but an intensely informative textbook.
However, there are a number of pitfalls Cardini makes, playing directly into the hands of the Politcally-Correct Establishment of the academic world. He dances awkwardly around the phrase "cross and crescent" in an attempt to play down the religious aspect of European-Muslim interaction, though it was a major aspect of European-Muslim relations for nearly a millenium. Instead, Cardini uses the clunky "Europe and Islam". Additionally, Cardini ignores a number of historical points. The swift, violent expansion of early Islam is boiled down to one dubious sentence, calling it, "a continuous, not always consistent process of conversion, imposed although seldom provoked."
Cardini also declares that the battle of Tours-Poitiers in 732 had no major impact on Muslim expansion into Western Europe, though he admits, a few pages later, that the battle did indeed stop Muslim armies pushing into Gaul. Though this academic double-talk does not pervade the rest of the book, it is indeed present. Furthermore, other historical events are belittled to the point of unimportance.
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Format: Paperback
First of all I enjoyed this book considerably.
It was a "quick read" Though its style is not what I would classify as that designed for mass consumption (ie dumbed down), compared to many academically oriented history books the prose is light and can be absorbed quickly.
Although this book is a survey/overview of historic interaction between Europe and Islam it is quite selective in what it actually addresses; thus, I think that it is best for an audience which already has a general (needen't be expert) understanding of the periods covered. Someone with less knowledge could certainly read it with enjoyment but might be somewhat lost unless he/she were to do a little additional research to provide the general backdrop. For example, page 3 states that "medieval authors were unanimous (although wrong) in their opinion that Europe was the main seat of Christianity, if not its only one." The author neglects to explain the factual background for this: the Middle East was still mostly Christian thoughout much if not most of the Middle Ages as conversion was not immediate upon conquest by the armies of Islam. Most people today probably do not know this and some would be perplexed by Cardini's assertion.
The book addresses many of the arenas of conflict between Christendom and Islam. Initially he focuses on the conquest and reconquest of Spain. He then moves east.
What I liked best and wherein I think lies the great value of the book is the author's constant use of specific lesser known events and facts to illustrate the complexity of the interrelations between the two worlds.
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