The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Feb 5, 2011 - History - 272 pages
2 Reviews
For centuries following the fall of Rome, western Europe was a
benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy,
and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling
those Europeans fortunate enough to catch even a glimpse of the
scientific advances coming from Baghdad, Antioch, or the cities of
Persia, Central Asia, and Muslim Spain. T here, philosophers,
mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of
knowledge and revitalizing the works of Plato and Aristotle. I n the
royal library of Baghdad, known as the House of Wisdom, an army of
scholars worked at the behest of the Abbasid caliphs. At a time when the
best book collections in Europe held several dozen volumes, the House
of Wisdom boasted as many as four hundred thousand. Even
while their countrymen waged bloody Crusades against Muslims, a handful
of intrepid Christian scholars, thirsty for knowledge, traveled to Arab
lands and returned with priceless jewels of science, medicine, and
philosophy that laid the foundation for the Renaissance. I n this
brilliant, evocative book, Lyons shows just how much "Western" culture
owes to the glories of medieval Arab civilization, and reveals the
untold story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.
 

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The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization

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During the medieval period (500-1500 C.E.), much of Western Europe was a cultural backwater, characterized by ignorance, illiteracy, and violence. At the same time the Arabic world, including Antioch ... Read full review

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This account of the House of Wisdom is fabulous! Similarly to a book about the Black Plague, this book puts the House into context by telling the tale of one English scholar who studied there and brought back the wisdom of the ages to the darker shores of Europe and England. Too long have the scholars of the Renaissance been given credit for the way things are today and too long have the hallowed halls of the House been relegated to the shadows. Lyons' book brings the accomplishments of the scholars of the House of Wisdom into the light, illustrating that Islam has a long history of collaborating with men and women of other faiths to bring the accomplishments of the ancients into common thinking then improve upon them. I recommend this book whole-heartedly and unreservedly to anyone who seeks to improve his or her familiarity with the accomplishments of these amazing and gifted medieval scholars.
Liz Rogan, EdD-c (MA, MSN), RN, CNE
Omaha, NE
 

Contents

I
1
II
7
III
8
IV
28
V
52
VI
53
VII
78
VIII
100
IX
101
X
125
XI
142
XII
162
XIII
163
XIV
186
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About the author (2011)

Jonathan Lyons served as an editor and foreign
correspondent-mostly in the Muslim world-for Reuters for more than
twenty years. He is now a researcher at the Global Terrorism Research
Center and a Ph.D. candidate in the sociology of religion, both at
Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

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