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Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists [Paperback]

Michael Morgan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 July 2008
Early Muslim culture set the foundation for the Rennaissance of Europe and for nearly every aspect of the modern world. In this age of conflict, "Lost History" provides a vital look at the Muslim world and its deep connection to all cultures. Unlike many histories, which address the noted Arab Golden Age of Baghdad, Persia, and Muslim Spain from 632 to 1258 AD and the fall of Baghdad, "Lost History" reveals the many 'golden ages' of Muslim thought, from Shiite Iran to Mughal India, to the 18th century. Engaging chapters introduce a contemporary accountant, obstetrician, civil engineer, or astrophysicist, all whose work is linked to early Muslim advancements.Artful flashbacks render page-turning accounts of such luminaries as Al Ma'mun, who founded Baghdad's international House of Wisdom from which came foundations for modern math, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, and literature; Al Khwarizmi, often considered the Father of Algebra, whose invention of algorithms makes possible cell phones today; revered Arab philospher Al Kindi, who wrote, 'nothing should be dearer to the seeker of truth than the truth itself;' Astronomer Al Manon, for whom is named a crater of the moon; the exiled Emir Abdal Rahman, who brought to Cordoba, Spain, irrigation systems and unique architecture; and the Syrian-born Al Nafis, who revealed that the blood flows from the heart, through the lungs, to the body and back again. Finally, readers discover that Omar Khayyam, well-loved poet of the Rubaiyat, was a mathematical wizard who calculated the length of a year to be 365.242 days (later calculated by atomic clocks to within millionths of a second). Writes the author: 'By recovering lost history together, maybe we can really get at the issues of today that will never be solved by force. Because if there is no other lesson to be drawn from "Lost History", it is that force rarely ever positively resolves issues of the spirit and the soul - whether in individuals, or in civilizations.'

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Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists + The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization + 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society; Reprint edition (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426202806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426202803
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 294,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Mathematics, astronomy and medicine; those are three of the many disciplines that would not exist in their present form without the contributions of Muslim scholars and thinkers throughout the centuries. We in the West don't often remember that."--Aaron Schachter, Anchor, "BBC "The World""

About the Author

Michael Hamilton Morgan is the author of "The Twilight War, " and co-author with undersea explorer Robert Ballard of "Collision with History: The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT-109, " and "Graveyards of the Pacific." A former diplomat, he created and now heads New Foundations for Peace, which promotes cross-cultural understanding and leadership among youth. He has appeared on ABC and CBS and as a Washington journalist covered foreign policy issues. From 1990 - 2000 he directed and advised the International Pegasus Prize for Literature.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 7 Nov 2008
By gnostic
I found this book by chance and wanted to give the writer a chance as well. It's a well written book with one major draw back, there is very little is the way of original sourcing. This was fustrating for me because I was interested in what the author had to say but at the same time a piece of work must show it sources. He flips the time line of the book from present day places to the past; It can be annoying. All in all, the book is worth reading and worth purchasing.

I would also like to leave you with the following quote from David King:

"Virtually all innovations in [astronomical] instrumentation in Europe up to ca. 1550 were either directly or indirectly Islamic in origin or had been conceived previously by some Muslim astronomer somewhere."
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost opportunity 25 Aug 2009
This wide-ranging and well researched book fills a real need, since there is so little understanding in the West of the achievements of Islamic civilisation, the extent of our indebtedness to it, and the historical length, the geographic breadth, and the intellectual depth of its accomplishments.

Unfortunately, the book is written in a breathless style more appropriate to a historical novel. There are lengthy descriptions of imagined scenes, and lengthy quotations from contemporary documents that serve no apparent purpose. There is no clear continuity either of time, or of topic. We are treated to a description of al-Biruni's entry to India, but are not told about his clear acceptance of the rotation of the Earth, or his balanced neutrality on the heliocentric question. We are at times left unclear about important questions of fact,and the line between imaginative reconstruction and factual reporting is hopelessly blurred. For example, did al-Mamun really dream about Aristotle, and if so how do we know? More importantly, was he really committed to the explicit view resulting from this dream that the path to revelation led through reason? Convoluted syntax stops us from finding out whether the author regards the Mutazilites as a faction within Kalam, or as opposed to it. These are not small matters, given the complex interactions between the God-centred philosophy of al-Ghazali, the independent thinking of the Mutazilites, and the sometimes excessive reverence of the falsafa for their Greek masters. al-Ghazali himself, by the way, gets only two brief mentions and nothing is said about the content of his doctrine, although this is central to at least one of the five possible perspectives on Islam discussed in the Introduction.

Ah, the Introduction! Enjoyably readable and delightfully lucid prose, clearly arranged, laying out complex intellectual issues in a way that makes them easy to follow. If only the whole book had been written in this style!
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb balanced exposition of our shared history 26 Jan 2008
As someone from the East who studied at an American liberal arts college, and quite rightly enthused with Western philosophy, science, and the development of rational thought, it has slowly dawned on me that the story is ever more complex.

Great thinkers from various cultures have enriched us - passing ideas and approaches to succeeding generations. Above all, great civilisations and thinkers have always been open to the ideas of others. The inquiring mind is driven by thirst, unconstrained by restrictive ideology that proclaims superiority of one culture over another. Ultimately there is no such lasting superiority - human beings are human beings, and no one has a claim to ascendancy. We ought to celebrate the insights and breakthroughs of all individuals no matter their background, culture and beliefs - though we often don't.

It may sound like yet another politically correct statement, but in truth that debate is sterile. What matters most to the inquiring mind is the truth - the concept of social acceptance or rejection, or of political correctness, is, and ought to be, an irrelevance. Morgan's book is not a statement about political correctness - it is a search for our history.

Studying mathematics and physics, especially its history, it slowly dawned on me that the simple story of Greek thought followed by Age of the Enlightenment in Europe is a truncated story. The truncations are in the middle - perhaps written out for biased reasons, perhaps just forgotten. There are now in fact telling clues that the Crusades played a large part in bringing the West in touch with rational thought - with science, discovery, and the spirit of inquiry.

It is sad when we cheat our children by telling them incomplete stories of human history and development.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing work 6 April 2010
By A. Butt
A friend posted this book to me and i started reading it. I soon got caught in this interesting work. The book is divided in chapters narrating the achievements of Muslims in different professions and it's not in chronological order. There are some important dates given in that order at the start of the book which a reader can frequently refer to. The author starts with fictitious present day story in each chapter which could have stark resemblances to real ones. That he does to draw a backdrop to that particular place and then goes to its history. I liked this style. He has clearly stated in preface that the present day stories are fiction. I can understand that it must have involved a very extensive research work on history and it is quite possible that giving references of everything would not have been possible. There are no references in the book. It is certainly not written for academicians but for lay people like me. Those interested in original references would have to do their own research i am afraid, that could be the whole idea behind it, we'll have to ask the author.
This book is brave attempt by any author of 21st century to praise the achievements of the Muslims in the past many of which have a great bearing on the present day developments.
A pure history book covering this huge era of over thousand years would have many volumes so he has brushed upon salient features and developments.
This was one the most interesting books i have ever read which presented a rather dry topic in a very palatable way. I'll give it full marks. This is a must read and have book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved gift
Bought it as a present and it is much loved. Heard a lot of good things about it that I'm tempted to get my own copy.
Published 16 months ago by retroW
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
While Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages there was a flourishing of Science, Art and Religeon in the Arab/Muslim world. Please give this a read and it may suprise and enlighten you.
Published on 21 April 2012 by The Muse
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation with the Middle-Eastern contribution to today's knowledge...
This book restitutes history and tells it as it should be told. It is comprehensive, written in an engaging manner story of muslim and middle-eastern people to the Science, Culture... Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2011 by Alter mondialist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars is not enough
without a doubt the best book on the subject. essential reading, particularly for muslims but also for others. Read more
Published on 24 July 2011 by ali mahmood
1.0 out of 5 stars I should have known
I have tried to get past the style of writing used in this book. Unfortunately one of my pet hates is history described in the present tense. Read more
Published on 22 May 2011 by NSA Rankin
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT AND FACTUAL
I first found out about this book on Al Jazeerah English and i knew i had to buy it. So i bought this book with excitement and it was one of the best decisions that i ever made. Read more
Published on 25 July 2009 by Mr. T. E. Samad
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant!
Personally I loved the way the author connected the past to the present - felt it was very clever and shed light on the profound accomplishments that Islamic civilization has made... Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by VF
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