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on 11 August 2014
This is a great book. It is not your usual history book. The chapters deal with themes rather than periods and the book itself is a meditation on ideas that are relevant to the present day. This ought to make it bad history: historians usually don't like the idea of using the lens of the present to investigate the past. However, Lowney makes valuable points about the different periods of Spanish history in which intolerance triumphed over plurality. He has immersed himself in the literature and has a great talent for finding colourful details and personalities that bring his work to life. We learn about Averroes and Maimonides and are treated to an intelligent analysis of the differences between the Chanson de Roland and El Cid.

If you like history that tells you about ordinary people , this is definitely a book for you. It does not give excessive space to the chronologies of kings and princes and is alive to the ways in which popular culture in Spain has often been at variance to the official line of the state. It is even-handed and doesn't fall into the tiresome trap of glorifying Muslim culture, which we learn was subject to the same waves of fanaticism and intolerance as the Christians.

The book was recommended to me by a pilgrim in one of my groups on the Camino de Santiago and I have recommended it to many others since.
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on 10 August 2014
I bought this book during a visit to Andalucía, purchased from the gift shop in the Alhambra Palace in Granada. It is a fascinating read particularly if you are looking for some historical background to Spain and in particular Andalucía and its historic sites. I felt it was readable; fairly jargon free and almost adopts a journalistic prose. It chronicle’s the historic development in Spain from the 6th Century through the Islamic rule of much of Spain, and Christian re conquest up to 1492. Given the author comes from a Jesuit background I felt it was fairly balanced and seeks to acknowledge the value of Christian, Jewish and Islamic culture within Spain during this period. Chris Lowey is never afraid to report atrocities and failings on both sides. Even for an idealist such as myself I felt it a touch idealistic in citing examples from this period as evidence of tolerance and harmony , but there are accounts, many on a local or personal level , of how people were prepared to overcome religious and historical differences for the common good. Reading it at a time of conflict in Iraq and Gaza and Israel I felt sad that so few of these lessons have been learnt. The Spanish expulsion of the Jews and Moslems can only leave you feeling sad that such an opportunity was missed, but Lowney rightly points out that there are enough valuable lessons to be learnt today. This book has left me much better informed and increased my hope that greater religious tolerance and cultural harmony is possible and that we should and can learn from history.
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on 18 April 2011
I bought this book to find out about the re-conquest of Andalusia by the Christians. However, it provides a wider scope than this, covering the whole period of Islamic rule from begining to end. Rather than a comprehensive text-book approach, it is more the author's guided tour, which is fine because he is clearly an expert. The author is American, and this sometimes intrudes, for example when he compares the population of Al-Andalus to that of Utah (?) There are few comparisons/contrasts with modern-day religious tensions, which I found a relief, and only the occasional repining for a time when Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived in relative harmony, at least compared with the subsequent injustices meted out under medieval Christendom.
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on 14 October 2014
to those ignorants that still believe that muslims had nothing to do with the European renaissance and taking the European out of the stone ages / dark ages must read this book ....this book is one of the many out there that highlight the amazing achievement that muslims gave the world and helped Europe ( Caucasians ) to become what it is now ......as we all know nothing comes from nothing in order for you to have a conclusion ( europe now ) you have to have an introduction ( muslims then)
wake up and make sure you read the book with an open mind and not an arrogant one ......
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This book provided invaluable, rich, and varied descriptions of life in Islamic Spain whilst I wrote The Moorish Whore set in that place and time. Many books of this type are dry academic tomes, but this one combines historic sweep with telling detail and excellent characterizations, too. It brings the period to life like a good novel, without sacrificing its academic credence.
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on 28 May 2013
Episodic history of Spain in the time of the Moors. very well-informed autor who writes well and aims to please. His writing is factual and infmormative. It si ahrd to put down if youa re a hsitory buff!
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on 21 February 2014
The book is very informative, but the language dont actually take you to the point quite quickly. Wish it could be made simpler
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