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Leo Africanus Paperback – March 25, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: New Amsterdam Books; First Edition edition (March 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561310220
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561310227
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Through the adventures of a wise, courageous traveler, this excellent historical novel limns Islamic culture at the time of Columbus.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Written in the form of a memoir, this historical novel explores the meeting of two worldsIslam and Christendomthrough the adventures of real-life Arab traveler and geographer Hassan al-Wazzan. Born in Spain just as the Moors were expelled in 1492, Hassan grows up in North Africa and as a young man crosses the Sahara to Timbuctu, eventually reaching Cairo on the eve of its conquest by the Ottomans. In the last of his sojourns recounted by Maalouf, Hassan arrives in the Rome of Pope Leo X, who christens him Leo Africanus. Chronicling the loves and adventures of his wandering protagonist, the author deftly weaves into Hassan's account a score of the traveler's more famous contemporaries, including Columbus, the Medicis, Martin Luther, and Suleiman the Magnificent. Enjoyable reading for general readers. L.M. Lewis, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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His character development is fantastic.
JD Miller
I didn't think I'd be interested but was hooked with the opening paragraph and stayed up late every night until I reached the end of the story.
Love good books
Exceptional historical and cultural education, beautifully written and well translated.
AA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By AA on March 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story of Leo Africanus or Hassan Al Wazan is a truly fascinating tale. Amin Maalouf has done an outstanding job in creating a very readable largely biographical work of a remarkable man. While a fiction there are no historical inaccuracies and a tremendous degree of accuracy in corroborating the event of this magnificent work with actual history.
A wonderful aspect of Leo Africanus is the pitfalls it avoided. Amin Maalouf did not attempt to paint a picture that support a certain vision of history or advances a certain agenda. This is a common theme in modern day work on history and especially historical fiction. The one agenda that Amin Maalouf may have had in mind and advanced beautifully is that the world is full of wonderful people; they come in different religions, different colors and different ethnicity and they speak different languages. The world is also full of many awful people from different religions, cultures and colors.
Reading Leo Africanus one feels a direct witness to the fall of Andalusia to the Spanish and its aftermath, the fall of Cairo to the Ottomans and its aftermath and the fall of Rome to the Lutherans. Globalization and the "global village" and easy travel may have made the world smaller in our time, for Hassan Al Wazan too, nearly 600 years ago traveling the globe and fitting in was a way of life.
Exceptional historical and cultural education, beautifully written and well translated.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By JD Miller on February 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book's characters are from the late 1400s, but you would think Mr. Maalouf interviewed and/or lived with each of them. His character development is fantastic. His book gives the reader a different perspective on Islamic life than one tends to get from today's media. You'll hear Muslims described in appropriate human terms (good and bad) as opposed to the sterotypical and fanatical terms we often hear today.
It reads like a history lesson, a travel essay, and a novel wrapped up into one. I suggest it to anyone planning or completing a trip to Southern Spain or Northern Africa. Hearing the Alhambra Palace described as a place of life, commerce and government instead of ruin was a treat. Being able to visualize the rooms, fountains and greenery with each line in the book was even better.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bo K. on August 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
While most novels written in the West today seem to be about baby-boomers searching for happiness amidst material wealth and spiritual emptiness, here is a novel that contains journeys to faraway lands, exciting adventure, and real historical significance. This novel is the fictional tale of a real muslim traveller in the Mediterranean region. It begins right before 1492, when that Italian sailed west, but also when the Moors were booted out of Spain in the reconquest. So we the readers are placed in a particular time that reverberates with historical significance. Traveller Leo Africanus goes on to make contact with a great many cultures and societies, from Muslim to Christian to pagan Berbers, and finds that the world is a turmoil of business and trade, religious intolerance, political manoevering, travel to beautiful foreign lands, and even some family troubles. Sounds familiar. A fun and topical read that may not be shakespeare but hey its a lot better than more ethan canin stories!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I normally do not read novels these days because so much of my time is taken up with other studies, but I am very glad that I read this one. I could have read 360 more pages. It was never boring. It follows the life of Leo Africanus year by year for 40 years. And what a life! I don't see how anyone with any interest at all in good historical fiction could not find a lot to enjoy here. And if there was ever a book that should be made into a long movie or a miniseries, this is it! I intend to read every work Mr. Maalouf has written.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Mcfarland on November 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Amin Maalouf tells the life story of Hasan al-Wazzan, a middle ages traveller extraordinaire. Known as Leo, he grew up in Granada in a mixed community, only to be thrown out, along with all the Jews, during the purges. He then travelled to north Africa where his life followed many twists and turns, some good and some tragic. There are tales of wealth, abject poverty, slavery and high position within the caliph courts. His life was a kaleidoscope of styles and standards - of religions and travelling partners. Mid-way he found himself in Rome, a Christian and papal emissary, only to return to north Africa and convert back to Islam once again. No state of mind or situation ever lasted for long.
Leo the African had a fantastic life and Amin Maalouf has written a fantastic story around it. His style is effortless and the descriptions of sixteenth century Middle East are teasing enough to get you looking at the maps and travel guides again. You'll love this book. I did, and I'd recommend everyone with wanderlust to read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alberto Leon on January 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hasan, also called Jean-Leon de Medici, also called Leo Africanus is the main character of this book. Hasan is a man beset by death, war and plague, and forced to leave everything to start anew in strange lands, among strangers.
The story takes place in 15th century Europe, where Hasan lives among Arabs, Jews and Christians.

The story is told with great humility, by an old man, Hasan, reflecting about the forty years he had lived in four cities around the Mediterranean: Granada, where he was born, Fez, where he faces misfortune, Cairo, where he recovers and finally Rome, where he meets the Pope.

Amin Maalouf is a gifted writer. Words fail me when I try to evaluate a book that needs no praising. No amount of flattery would make it any more pleasing to read. I still feel the same excitement every time I read it.

It was a great story, written with a scholarly flair that would please even the most demanding academician. This is proof that you don't need to be an intellectual to enjoy first class literature.
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