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Leo The African [Paperback]

Amin Maalouf
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

22 Sep 1994

From his chlidhood in Fez, having fled the Christian Inquisition, through his many journeys to the East as an itinerant merhcant, Hasans story is a quixotic catalogue of pirates, slave girls and princesses, encompassing the complexities of a world in a state of religious flux. Hasan too is touched by the instability of the era, performing his hadj to Mecca, then converting to Christianity, only to relapse back to the Muslim faith later in life.

In re-creating his extraordinary experiences, Amin Maalouf sketches an irrisistible portrait of the Mediterranea world as it was nearly five centuries ago - the fall of Granada, the Ottoman conquest of Egypt, Renaissance Rome under the Medicis: all contribute to a background of spectacular colour, matched only by the picaresque adventures of Hasan's life.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (22 Sep 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349106002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349106007
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


The most entertaining education we could wish for...Leo the African is a celebration of the romance and power of the Arab world, its ideals and achievements - Daily Telegraph (Maalouf's fiction offers both a model for the future and a caution, a way towards cultural understanding and an appaling measure of the consequences of failure. He is a voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore - Guardian)

About the Author

Amin Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist and writer. He was formerly director of the weekly international edition of the leading Meirut daily an-Nahar, and editor in chief of Jeune Afrique. He now lives in Paris with his wife and three children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 7 Mar 2001
By A Customer
A facinating read, and a beautiful account of North African/Spanish events of the late 15th Century. Maalouf is clearly a gifted writer and I look forward to reading more from him.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turner 4 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This is a fascinating jaunt around the Med of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, filled with a wealth of knowledge of Moorish Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Constaninople, Italy...Refreshing in that you get a look at life through Islamic eyes, it also deals with obsessive love, ambition, revenge, princesses and slave girls, sultans and popes, pirates and imams. A great fairytale of a novel, it's even better if you read it, as I did, in a village in the mountains south of Granada.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The first 75 pages have a fictionalised account of when Ferdinand and Isabel took control of Granada Spain and finally expelled the Arabs. The historical facts are accurate and the way the story is told brings this bit of history to life so that it is possible to have a good idea of what actually happened.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leo The African 28 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This has to be one of the most amazing books I have read in my life - Leo the African. It's a story of a 16th century Muslim traveller writer from Granada - Hassan Al Wazzan. What this book did for me was explain the place of Muslim history in that of 16th century European history. I studied 16th century history at school but this is a part history that was either omitted or just not given any importance. I could not put this book down and cried when I finished this book. I did not want this magnificent journey in to Islamic history to finish.

It shows how historically Muslims, Christian and Jews have not been just each other's enemies but in fact each other's most faithful allies. Muslims have also killed Muslims and Christians have killed Christians. On the whole due to land and power not for faith.

The main message I obtained from this book is that no matter what religion or belief system you may follow we are all intrinsically linked with one another as human beings. Tolerance and acceptance, generosity are the only way forward and it is up to each and everyone of us to leave a legacy of what is wonderful about every faith and belief system behind us, for our children and future generations.

What has really changed this century? Well nothing and everything.

This book has reminded me why I am proud to be a Muslim and why I am so proud to have friends of all religions and beliefs. If you have a thirst to know more about Islamic history, you wont be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Intense and evocative 8 Dec 1998
By A Customer
An brilliant and fascinating journey through the Mediteranean world of the sixteenth century. The colours, the sounds and the smells of love, power and cruelty burn into the memory. I hardly paused for breath until the end.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful narrative + great historic setting 22 Jan 2002
Wonderful book - you pick it up and find it hard to put down. Maalouf's prose is quite irresistible - you are enchanted by the characters and their lives. In the historic novel genre, this must be a top pick. Can't wait to read his other books...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good read 29 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had never heard of Maalouf until I visited Beirut and his work was recommended to me, so I started with his novel "The Rock Of Tanios". I enjoyed it so much that I decided to read this earlier (his first) and longer (360 pages) work. Although he is Lebanese and his native language is Arabic, Maalouf writes in French and, since the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, has resided in Paris. Even in an English translation, his writing is delightfully engaging. Within the central narrative, he manages to weave so many smaller stories and, alongside the main character, he introduces so many other colourful personages (including a number of historical individuals).

The novel is a fictionalised account of the life of the real-life traveller, the 16th century Moor whose proper name was al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi. The work is organised into four 'books' - set respectively in Granada, Fez, Cairo and Rome (all cities that I have visited) - covering a 40-year period starting in 1494. There is much fascinating historical detail, while the main theme is the conflict between Islam and Christianity - a subject of great relevance today five centuries later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich historical tapestry 1 Jan 2010
Maalouf is Lebanese; he writes in French. I read his book on the crusades years ago. Leo the African is a recreation of the life and travels of Hasan al-Wazzan, known as Leo Africanus. Starting with his exile from al-Andalus when Granada fell and his settlement in Fez, his engagement in trade and politics leads to sojourns in Cairo and Rome and visits to Timbuktu and Constantinople. A terrific evocation of the cultural complexity and political shenanigans of the Mediterranean world of the 15th and 16th centuries.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I really liked this book. I am interested in the period when it was written and love to read about different cultures and times. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M Ellel
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful
Maalouf never disappoints, and Leo the African is a brilliant and stylish exposition of cultural pragmatism. One to read and re-read.
Published 6 months ago by Dreamboat
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
a beautiful account of North African/Spanish events of the late 15th Century. Maalouf is clearly a gifted writer
Great work, as an Algerian, this period of time was very... Read more
Published 8 months ago by riad achour
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid journey back into history
I highly recommend Leo the African for enjoyable time yet learning back in the history yet thinking on.
The geography, it covers is tremendaous.
Published 10 months ago by Srht
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun history
A good read, if you enjoy historical novels. Not at all relevant to southern Morocco, but entertaining if you already know a bit about southern Spain (Granada), northern Morocco... Read more
Published 13 months ago by David Hanbury
1.0 out of 5 stars Suffering in slow motion
Leo was chosen as a book club read and I make it a practice to be diligent in reading the books we're supposed to read and am usually respectful with my comments. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2007 by reading riot
5.0 out of 5 stars 15th century Mediterranean through Leo's eyes
Leo the African is a beautifully written novel. Leo takes us through his life story from his early childhood in Spain down to his teenager times in Morocco and finalising with his... Read more
Published on 18 July 2007 by Kivanc Emiroglu
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