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God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 Paperback – January 12, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A wonderfully interesting contribution.--Amartya Sen
A magisterial work by one of America's greatest historians. --Reza Aslan, author of No god but God
A wonderfully interesting contribution. --Amartya Sen"
In God's Crucible, answers to many urgent questions, currently in the public discourse, can be deduced. --Eric Ormsby"
Lewis's treatment...is lucid, and his command of detail is encyclopedic....The book is erudite. --James B. Reston Jr."
Top Customer Reviews
The central argument of the book, and a valid one I think, is that Europe might have advanced more rapidly in its development had the Franks not checked the advance of Muslim armies into Europe at the Pyrenees. Lewis' hero, Abd al-Rahman, the first self-styled Amir of Andalusian Spain, was the sole survivor of the Syrian Umayyads, once proud rulers of Islam in the East, overthrown at last by the Abbasids. The boy made one narrow escape from assassination after another until he reached Spain where he rapidly rose to become the sophisticated ruler of al-Andalus, the parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania under Muslim rule.
Lewis is at his best here. His love for the culture of Andalusian Spain and his appreciation for the sophistication of Arab culture is contagious and I found his overview of the rise of Islam thoroughly engrossing. But it's fairly plain that Muhammad brought the new faith of Islam into a civilization that was already ancient, prosperous and sophisticated. And this certainly is a factor in the speed with which it spread.
The same simply cannot be assumed about Europe, the very idea of which simply did not exist, even as the young Charlemagne earned his spurs fighting back the armies of pagan Saxons, Slavs and the many petty dukes ruling in the regions that would become France.Read more ›
"God's Crucible" refers to al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain, as the site of the first clash of civilizations between Islam and the Christian west.Read more ›
History is as much a matter of interpretation as a recounting of facts. It is certainly true that most Islamic fundamentalist today regard much of the period covered by this book (late 8th Century through the early 13th Century) as a `Golden Age' for Islam. It also appears accurate to argue that during this golden age at least parts of the Realm of Islam (Dar al Islam) achieved a remarkably tolerant society and a high level of culture. Yet this is a very relative conclusion. One suspects that most Muslims of the golden age were more like their contemporaneous European Christian counterparts than not. Golden age Islamic learning and culture, like contemporary European culture, were restricted to a learned minority and were scarcely universal. Also one would suspect that Islamic tolerance to religious minority groups such as the Jews and Coptic Christians was as dicey in the Golden Age as it is today. Still the Islamic society of the Iberian Peninsula had an enviable reputation for tolerance and certainly provided Western Europe with some of the intellectual horse power it needed to move into the high middle ages.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent overview of a much misunderstood and unknown part of history. A difficult read though because of the profusion of Arab names, mixing them with nicknames, or other... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Roger Morawski
Enjoyed thoroughly and will continue to do, as this strikes me as awesome work that casts light on the complicated but compelling sweep of Islam. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Richard P Weed
Very interesting book, honest and many information related to that decisive period.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A must read for anyone who wants to understand this Brisbane and thus the history of your outstanding history which comes alivePublished 3 months ago by steven readsalot
The Go-To book for a history of Early Islam and its clashes with Christianity. Of particular interest is its treatment as to why Islam even arose in the first place. Read morePublished 4 months ago by VICB3
If you've ever wondered why the Dark Ages ended and what propelled the Renaissance, grab this book and fill in this still largely missing piece of the puzzle. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is the second time I read this book. I found first reading to be difficult and confusing. But in light of recent events that have occurred in the Middle East in recent... Read morePublished 6 months ago by BR
This book summarizes the rise of Islam and its conquering of Spain contrasted against the simultaneous, halting attempts by Christendom to meld the rest of Europe into something... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Nemoman
This will be a review of the CD version read by Richard Allen. Hence no references to maps and a few words about the reading
Professor David Lewis' God's Crucible represents... Read more