This is not a history book nor is it a novel and yet it reads much like a story, told in the ancient tradition of storytelling, and I could easily imagine our author talking aloud to a group. It's a tale lovingly told, a tale of passions, the tale of world history from a non-Western perspective. Like the storytellers of old, the author engages us, cajoles us, throws in little tit-bits of gossip but most of all informs the un-informed. So, be warned history buffs, although there is an extensive bibliography this is a one man's perspective of certain events he has chosen to include and he makes no excuse for that. The title also makes clear that this is a religious tale, so be prepared for explanations of Islam the religion and Islam the way of life, its tenants and rules, as well the details of what sometimes seemed to me obscure differences of opinion. There are also mystics and universities of learning and through the tales one learns their debut to our Classical world and their gift in return, to western civilization which allowed the Enlightment and Renaissance to flourish. Reading this I felt that the tragedy of the currently popular ''clash of civilizations'' is that sailing back and forth on the sea of time we are completely intertwined; learning, knowledge and culture seeping back and forth between, so ultimatey its a re-telling of bits of our culture that we seemed to have rubbed out of the history books.
I thoroughly enjoyed, this unusual and personal telling of history as a story, its engaging, interesting and amusing - the author is just that a author not a historian, so he can give his view and get away with it. It also allows him to be emotional and passionate in highlighting the tragedy of the common man, women and child living in what we now call the Middle east, their failed aspirations and somewhat hidden tale. Be prepared it is also a political tale as despite the spices and characters on the way it's a tale of corruption and missed opportunities of golden ages and depths of despair. And it seemed to me that one of the main reasons for writing this book was for our author - an Afghan- to help the west understand the roots of those tears. Just like a good movie our storyteller knows how to tell a tale and at the end I felt enlightened, I learnt things I didn't know, I heard interesting stories and would recommend this as a enjoyable way to understand our shared past and what should be, if we can talk and argue openly about such stories our shared future.
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