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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
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...
Published on 7 Nov 2008 by gnostic

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost opportunity
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...
Published on 25 Aug 2009 by P. S. Braterman


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 7 Nov 2008
This review is from: Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (Hardcover)
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
By 
P. S. Braterman "Chemistry Professor" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
By 
N. Afaf (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (Hardcover)
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. Our history is a collective history. For me the awareness that the typical Western philosophic education has chosen to eschew telling the tale of great thinkers from other cultures is a slight disappointment - given that I have always taken the Western method to be all about openness and inquiry. But then no one is perfect - be it individual or culture.

Morgan tells the story impartially and with no hint of bias. The theme is the same - that not knowing our rich history, even if belonging to the various Islamic eras in different regions in different centuries is ultimately everyone's loss. From Al Khwarizmi to Avicenna, to Caliph Rashid and his libraries in Baghdad, to the first man to develop a working parachute, Morgan tells the story of an Islamic culture embraced with a love of knowledge, spirit of inquiry and openness. It is easy to see the links to the flowering of Western thought - after the West came in touch with the East.

It is an enrichening read, all the more so because the author has no axe to grind, but to tell the actual history, and to share it with all. To both sides of the current carefully cultivated divide between East and West, this is simultaneously a delightful and sobering read. Closing one's mind to others serves no purpose. We lose our history and who we were, and where we are headed.

Tiresome minds, both from the East and the West, obsessed with proclaiming the superiority of their own cultures, will find this book an irritant. But those who are curious, and with a genuine thirst for understanding, will find this a refreshing and invaluable read. It will fill in the missing links in intellectual history that leave confusion, blindness and a sense of dissatisfaction in the inquiry mind. I would suggest a read.
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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 (UK) - See all my reviews
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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant!, 18 Mar 2009
By 
VF (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (Hardcover)
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 to the present day. I'm sure it is not a book for academics - but for mainstream audiences like myself it was pitched just at the right level! My only bugbear was the lack of pictures - I was continually googling for them whilst I read! The book however still gets 5 stars!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars loved gift, 5 April 2013
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 21 April 2012
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This review is from: Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (Hardcover)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation with the Middle-Eastern contribution to today's knowledge and society, 16 Dec 2011
This review is from: Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (Hardcover)
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 and Educational process as we know it. It is in my view a must read for all frustated muslims and middle-eastern people and the rest of the citizens of the world. It simply demonstrates that no one civilization, no one people can claim the property of Truth, Knowledge and modern day Civilization.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT AND FACTUAL, 25 July 2009
By 
Mr. T. E. Samad (Birmingham West Midlands England) - See all my reviews
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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. As a Muslim, i felt embarrassed and even angry about the entrenched backwardness in the Islamic world but it was this book that made me feel really proud of the past achievements of Islamic civilisation. Islamic thinkers truly have given the world a lot of great things-things that many people in the west take for granted. I recommend all the people in the world that know very little if not anything about Islam to read this book and learn from it. Islam promotes intellectual enquiry within human beings and that searching for knowledge is one of the greatest things that a Muslim can do in this life. Sadly, many Muslims have forgotten or just ignore this fact and believe that they should just pray fives times a day and that this will help them to go to heaven. Islam has not left the hearts and minds of many Muslims but it is many Muslims that have left Islam and yet do not know it. Buy this great book if you truly want to find out about the true Islam.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars is not enough, 24 July 2011
By 
This review is from: Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists (Hardcover)
without a doubt the best book on the subject. essential reading, particularly for muslims but also for others.
it deserves a place in the list of the 100 most important books to read, and is in the top 10 on the subject of muslim history.
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