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Moorish Spain Hardcover – 1 Oct 1992


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (1 Oct. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080502395X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805023954
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 671,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Richard Fletcher is a distinguished historian and accomplished writer with the gift of making complex historical happenings comprehensible to his readers without losing a sense of their complexity."--Raymond Carr, "The Spectator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A clear, intelligently-written guide to a crucial period of Spanish history --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Philip Spires on 31 May 2010
Format: Paperback
In Moorish Spain Richard Fletcher achieves a significant feat. In a short book he not only chronicles the bones of nearly a millennium of history, but also offers much that adds to our understanding of the social context, both of his chosen era in particular and of history in general.

Moorish Spain does not aspire to scholarly excellence. Richard Fletcher's stated aim is to provide a fuller and more accurate account of Islamic rule in the Iberian peninsula than the cursory accounts offered in travel books. He also aspires to a treatment of the subject that is more accurate than the romanticised position of nineteenth century travellers, accounts that served to create and then perpetuate myth.

And paramount in this myth is the received opinion that in Moorish al-Andalus all things social were both sweetness and light and pure harmony. Not so, says Fletcher, as he chronicles power struggles, intrigues and repeated conflict. He describes the different interests that ensured that conflict, both small-scale and local or larger-scale and spread across a wider front, was never very far away. When competing parties felt that they could all benefit from interaction and trade, it was, he suggests, largely pragmatism that kept the peace.

His story begins in the early eighth century when the first invasion of what we now call Spain arrived from Morocco. It ends with the expulsion of the Mozarabes in the sixteenth century. In between, in a quite short and accessible book, he illustrates how shifting alliances and opportunity for short-term gain mix with broader views and humanitarian concerns to present a patchwork of history. And this patchwork is characterised, above all, by our inability to generalise. Throughout, it is the particular that is important.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on 7 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
Dealing with the 700 years of Muslim civilisation in Iberia, this is a gem of popular history, entertaining without sacrificing scholarly attention to detail. The prose is sharp, evocative, and eminently easy to read; the pages are filled with ancedotes and stories that bring this lost world to life. A taster rather than comprehensive, this is an essential companion to travels in Spain, or an ideal way to begin learning more about this oft-overlooked period.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By rfrench@hotbot.com on 6 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I was going on holiday to Andalucia and wanted some background reading on the area's history. It far exceeded my expectations and was a most enjoyable read in its own right. Richard Fletcher successfully explodes the myth that Moorish Spain was a pinnacle of civilisation bolted onto the barbarian European Christian kingdoms of the time. He dispels the image of a seamless period of rule and describes instead the rise and fall of various dynasties, often warring as much amongst themselves as with their Christian neighbours. He doesn't neglect the amazing achievements of the scholars, artists and craftsmen of the period, whose legacy lingers in the great monuments that draw hordes of visitors today but puts them into the context of mediaeval Europe as well as the wider Islamic world. My only gripe is that the book is fairly slim and in many places I would have liked to have found out more, particularly about the more mundane social history of such a multicultural society. But I firmly recommend it as a general introduction to the period - you certainly don't have to be a history student to enjoy and learn from this informative work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
A previous reviewer has characterized this excellent book on Moorish Spain by Richard Fletcher as "a gem of popular history." I couldn't agree more, although it is also more than that.

It is no mean feat to be able to summarize in less than 180 pages over 780 years of history without being superficial. This is a tribute to both the author's writing skills and to his in-depth knowledge of Moorish Spain and of the" historical sources, some of which he has in fact edited himself in another of his books (The World of El Cid - Chronicles of the Spanish reconquest, Manchester University Press, 2000). The author's style is engaging, entertaining, but sharp and to the point. Each chapter is organized around a specific event or period. Perhaps the weakest of the lot is the one on Nasrid Grenada. It is one of the shortest (less than 20 pages) but it covers a period of over 200 years. The period (from about 1250 to 1492) does not generally raise the same amount of interest among general readers, with the notable exception of the last 10 years of the Kingdom of Grenada and its hopeless war against the joint forces of the Catholic Monarchs of Castille and Aragon -Ferdinand and Isabella).

Quite correctly, the fall of Grenada, like the fall of Constantinople in 1453, are the two competing dates that historians have traditionally picked as the end of the Middle Ages. This is what we were taught in school and while it is not strictly correct - the passage from one area to another was a slow transition rather than anything else - it is easy to understand why each of these dates are significant: they mark the end of a civilisation that had dominated the Middles Ages in their respective regions.
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