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Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus [Kindle Edition]

Amin Maalouf
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


Leo Africanus is a beautiful book of tales about people who are forced to accept choices made for them by someone else...It relates, poetically at times and often imaginatively, the story of those who did not make it to the New World. The New York Times Utterly fascinating. BBC World Service Absoutely facinating-an evocation of a lost world. Leo's travels among the Moslems, Christians and Jews in his time shed startling light on our present dilemmas. Thomas Fleming

Product Description

"I, Hasan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I, Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road, my country is the caravan, my life the most unexpected of voyages."

Thus wrote Leo Africanus, in his fortieth year, in this imaginary autobiography of the famous geographer, adventurer, and scholar Hasan al-Wazzan, who was born in Granada in 1488. His family fled the Inquisition and took him to the city of Fez, in North Africa. Hasan became an itinerant merchant, and made many journeys to the East, journeys rich in adventure and observation. He was captured by a Sicilian pirate and taken back to Rome as a gift to Pope Leo X, who baptized him Johannes Leo. While in Rome, he wrote the first trilingual dictionary (Latin, Arabic and Hebrew), as well as his celebrated Description of Africa, for which he is still remembered as Leo Africanus.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1052 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009AM63Y6
  • Publisher: New Amsterdam Books (3 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #382,505 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf 6 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Leo Africanus existed for real. Amin Maalouf wrote the best possible ever novel about his life. Precious book. Good value.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Global Witness 12 Mar 2003
By AA - Published on
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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leo Africanus - A very good book 1 Mar 2000
By JD Miller - Published on
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.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars global fiction for the twenty -first century 18 Aug 2000
By Bo K. - Published on
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!
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good novel. 6 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on
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.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book 18 Nov 2001
By M. Mcfarland - Published on
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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