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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 21 October 2010
Some recent television documentaries have implied that without Arabic/Islamic science Europe would not have emerged from the dark ages. This contrasts with Jacob Bronowski's statement (Ascent of Man) "...Alhazen, who was the one really original scientific mind that Arab culture produced." The view presented by the present author is more balanced than, perhaps, either of the foregoing but at times I felt that I was reading a list. This may beg the question of What is Science? The collection of data is useful, but what is done with it produces results, results which one hopes will be beneficial, but are not always so. I was left with the impression that there was the important collection of earlier knowledge and its transmission, but of itself was somewht sterile. Anyone interested should read the book and form their own opinions; I did start with Bronowski in mind.
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on 25 September 2013
I came across this because it was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize for Writing and it was deservedly so shortlisted. His explanation of the origin of the word algebra was just one of a vast range of historical tales that I had not previously encountered. In a relatively short book he catalogues a vast array of early Arabic scientists and also comes up with some convincing theories as to why they arose when they did, and how that contrasts with the European renaissance, and the modern day. The book's only tiny flaw is that the cast list of early Arabic scientists is so huge that one can't quite keep them all in the memory - but the author realises that himself and the book concludes with an excellent appendix of mini biogs of each and every one of his "Pathfinders".
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I enjoyed reading this book - you can clearly see from the pictures and the way he writes about Iraq, that he is very proud of his dual heritage and both sides of his family.The book hits all the main points (without going into too much detail). However, the cover of the book is of poor quality. The laminate on the cover seems to start peeling (like sunburn) in less than a week. Apart from that I would of given it 5 stars.
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on 27 May 2014
Reading this book has given me a valuable insight into the scholarship and genius of the mediaeval Arab scientists. I also gained an appreciation of the enormous task they set themselves in seeking out and preserving the medical and philosophical works of ancient Greece. Well worth reading.
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on 4 November 2013
I have always been interested in the great age of Arabian science, philosophy, literature, etc. and on how indebted we Europeans are to them. Also in the interaction with Persian and Indian sources. Pathfinders is a very entertaining, easy to read answer.
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on 19 August 2013
Clear and easy to follow rendition of a complex and potentially highly charged period of history/cultural development in a scientific context.
Should be on every undergraduate science student's 1st Year reading list.
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on 11 April 2016
easy purchase, quick delivery and an amazing journey through the book... what else do I need! :-)
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on 31 March 2016
Learnt a great deal about the arab contribution to our knowledge of maths and the sciences.
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on 8 July 2012
Each page of this book contained a nugget of information that I did not know. The author has such a gift of explaining highly complex information in a clear and concise manner. His command of history, (coming from a physicist!)is very informative. He has done all the necessary research to make this book the most informative and interesting read on the subject I have ever read. It's a shame it is such short book. I would highly recommend this book since it is worth every penny.
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on 3 March 2016
Very interesting account of forgotten science.
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