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Moorish Spain Paperback – December 29, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New edition edition (December 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520084969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520084964
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fletcher, author of the well-received The Quest for El Cid ( LJ 3/1/90), intends his new work to be an introduction to the culture and history of Moorish Spain. He has written for the traveler who wants more background than the average guidebook provides or for anyone who wants a thoroughgoing overview of the subject. Fletcher uses translations from Moorish poetry and historical anecdotes to illuminate a significant period in European history, arguing that Moorish Spain acted as a channel through which the philosophical and scientific works of the Islamic world passed to European Christendom. One example given by Fletcher is the development of Thomist philosophy, which sought to reconcile revelation and reason. The Moorish philosopher Averroes, whose treatises on Aristotle had attempted such a reconciliation of philosophy and religion in an Islamic context, was cited by St. Thomas Aquinas 503 times. This is recommended for public and academic libraries.
- Robert Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

An excellent, introductory text. . . . Richard Fletcher manages to give us a picture of Hispano-Arab culture -- its thought, architecture, poetry and politics (in under 200 pages. (New York Newsday

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Customer Reviews

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This kind of book is why one bothers to read at all; truly lovely.
peejay
If one wants to see what the Moorish/Muslim influence of the past and present of Spanish Culture were and are today.
Joe Owen
A major success of the book is the excellent use of primary sources.
Peter J. Adams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 121 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Any casual reader traveling to Southern Spain for the first time should read Fletcher's book before departure. Simply put, it is one of the best summaries of the 700 years of Islamic rule in Moorish Spain. Fletcher's sharp analysis and story-telling skills make this book a real stand-out. If you are familiar with the work of Bernard Lewis, the gifted and prolific Middle East historian, I suspect you will appreciate the efforts of Richard Fletcher.
My wife and I own a home in one of the oldest Moorish & Jewish quarters in Southern Spain, have visited many significant Moorish sites and have read dozens of books about Spain's Islamic period, including Maria Rosa Menocal's "Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain."
We want you to know Fletcher's book remains one of the most dog-eared, and borrowed books about Spain in our library today. If you are a fan of Moorish architecture, history, music, poetry and art, I suspect Fletcher's book will become an important companion for many years to come.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By events3 on May 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Richard Fletcher's MOORISH SPAIN is an excellent addition to the library shelf holding Bovill's GOLDEN TRADE OF THE MOORS and Peter Russell's PRINCE HENRY 'THE NAVIGATOR': A life. The book is an easy and enjoyable read, but probably intended more for the lay reader than for scholars of al-Andalus (indeed, the author states that the work "is intended as an introduction to the history and culture of Islamic Spain" which lays "no claim to deep or original scholarship" which explains why it only includes a list of recommended reading rather than a complete bibliography with chapter sources). That being said, the book should deepen the understanding of the general reader.

Fletcher details the Islamic, Arab-led Berber invasion of Visgothic Spain (formerly a Roman territory) from northern Africa in 711 (after the conquest of northern Africa). We are informed that in large part the conquest was intended to further the Islamicization of the Berbers. Many of the cities were originally surrounded and reached an accomodation with the invaders allowing the continued existence of djimmis of Christians. Those which did not were crushed and the lands of those who made any attempt to oppose the invasion were taken and redistributed (with the Arabs getting the most arable land and the Berbers getting the remnants). Captives were either ransomed or - if too poor or otherwise unable to pay ransom - sold into slavery. Conversion from Christianity meant an opportunity to advance oneself and to avoid periodic outbreaks of anti-Christian violence. In the meanwhile, the conquest was pushed back from those northernmost areas considered least habitable, setting the stage for the slow "reconquest" of Spain.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
Dealing with the 700 years of Muslim civilisation in Iberia, this is a gem of popular history, entertaining without sacrificing scholarly attention to detail. The prose is sharp, evocative, and eminently easy to read; the pages are filled with ancedotes and stories that bring this lost world to life. A taster rather than comprehensive, this is an essential companion to travels in Spain, or an ideal way to begin learning more about this oft-overlooked period.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth East on August 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Fletcher's goal is to serve the "inquisitive traveller." That's a perfect description of me. I'm going to Spain next year and have been trying to learn more about the country and its history. I've already read a book on medieval/Visigoth Spain. It was OK, but it was more detail than I need and it was not written in a very engaging style. Fletcher's book, in contrast, fit my needs perfectly. He treats the topic broadly--but you never feel that he's trying to tell you everything there is to know. He illustrates issues with vivid, but select, examples. His style is easy and inviting. As a former history major, I appreciate how he discusses what kind of evidence exists for the period and how he evaluates it. But these musings are never a barrier to his just telling a good story about an interesting period in Spanish history.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Adams on September 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a little gem of a book. Coming in at just 175 pages in my edition, it manages to convey the feel of the time period more vividly than much longer books with detailed narratives. Although it is written primarily as an introduction for the general reader, I think more serious readers will find Fletcher's perspective useful and don't have much of an excuse for not reading it. It discusses interesting political themes of the period, such as ethnic tensions between Arabs and Berbers, as well as dedicating substantial attention to relations between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Moorish Spain.

Chapters are arranged mostly chronologically but some are thematic. There are chapters, for example, on the invasion, Caliphate period, the taifa kingdoms, the Almoravid/Almohad period, as well as the Nasrids. This helps the reader keep the broad historical outline in mind while sparing readers who don't want too much narrative detail.

A major success of the book is the excellent use of primary sources. Fletcher is not afraid to dedicate regularly half of a page or more to a well selected quotation. These are excellent for conjuring up the flavor of the time period and also illustrate the difficulties that the historian faces when trying to write history based on documents that are sometimes difficult or sparse.

Some histories of this time period seem to take a romanticized opinion of Moorish culture, depicting it as a time of harmony between Muslims, Christians, and Jews as well as a period of great cultural and scientific achievements. While there doubtless were great achievements and relative harmony during this period, the author goes to lengths to avoid an overly rosy view.
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