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Leo The African Paperback – 22 Sep 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (22 Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349106002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349106007
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
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 By A Customer on 4 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
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 on 26 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ms. S. A. Ahsan on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Darlington on 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By miarchy@bear.com on 22 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kivanc Emiroglu on 18 July 2007
Format: Paperback
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 adulthood in Cairo, Istanbul and Rome. His soul reflects the Mediterrenean culture and its connectedness within.

Leo is a survivor. Most of his charm, successes and failures in life come from his being a traveller. It is fascinating to see how connected the Mediterranean was at that time. Every culture's, empire's moves impacted the other and everyone was informed about each other. It is also surprising to see that Europe, at that time, was not a safe place for Araps and Jews. Not much changed! History repeated itself after 450 years in a much more dramatic way.

Another interesting point is the influence of Ottomans (The Great Turk as Leo calls them) in the European politics and how the Mediterranean people viewed them as saviours yet they have been pretty brutal at times to the same people. The fall of Istanbul from European politics during the 20th century must have been very dramatic not only for Turks but also for all Mediterrenean cultures.

I thought Maalouf's style of telling the story of an individual along with the political history of that time works perfectly in this novel. His way of explaining the politics involves no judgement and does not create any controversy because his main objective is to explain the impact of that on Leo's life, nothing more nothing less. Being a Mediterranean myself, Leo's life story really touched me. Leo is curious towards life and nonjudgmental about others. He sees life more about living new experiences and a search for unknown people and cultures than a meaningless struggle for materialistic and conformist values.
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