Sea of Faith by Stephen O'Shea
Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World

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The long, shared history of Christianity and Islam began, shortly after Islam emerged in the early seventh century A.D., with a question: Who would inherit the Greco-Roman world of the Mediterranean? Sprung from the same source--Abraham and the Revelation given to the Jews--the two faiths played out over the course of the next millennium what historian Stephen O'Shea calls "a sibling rivalry writ very large." Their cataclysmic clashes on the battlefield were balanced by long periods of co-existence and mutual enrichment, and by the end of the sixteenth century the religious boundaries of the modern world were drawn.

In Sea of Faith, O'Shea chronicles both the meeting of minds and the collisions of armies that marked the interaction of Cross and Crescent in the Middle Ages--the better to understand their apparently intractable conflict today. For all the great and everlasting moments of cultural interchange and tolerance--in Cordoba, Palermo, Constantinople--the ultimate "geography of belief " was decided on the battlefield. O'Shea vividly recounts seven pivotal battles between the forces of Christianity and Islam that shaped the Mediterranean world--from the loss of the Christian Middle East to the Muslims at Yarmuk (Turkey) in 636 to the stemming of the seemingly unstoppable Ottoman tide at Malta in 1565. In between, the battles raged round the Mediterranean, from Poitiers in France and Hattin in the Holy Land during the height of the Crusades, to the famed contest for Constantinople in 1453 that signaled the end of Byzantium. As much as the armies were motivated by belief, their exploits were inspired by leaders such as Charles Martel, Saladin, and Mehmet II, whose stirring feats were sometimes accompanied by unexpected changes of heart.

About Stephen O'Shea

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Toronto-born author and journalist Stephen O’Shea moved to France in the early 1980s. There, he took up journalism, shortly after completing postgraduate degrees in politics at the Université de Paris 1 (Pantheon–Sorbonne) and the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris.In 1989, Elle magazine relocated O’Shea to New York to be a senior features editor of their American edition. In 1993, he returned to Paris, where he worked as Variety’s film critic, and published articles on French culture and politics for American, British, French, and Canadian magazines, including The Observer, The Times of London, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, Allure, and Mother Jones.To research The Perfect Heresy, O’Shea moved to Perpignan in southern France in 1997, where he spent two years immersing himself in Cathar lore. In addition to The Perfect Heresy, O’Shea is also the author of the widely acclaimed Back to the Front (Walker & Company, 1997), a hiker’s meditation on the trenches of World War I.Stephen O’Shea currently lives with his wife, Jill Pearlman, and two daughters in Providence, Rhode Island.
Published May 1, 2006 by Douglas & McIntyre. 400 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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O’Shea (The Perfect Heresy, 2000, etc.) centers his narrative around the Mediterranean, which acts as a neutral witness to the historic events unfolding on its diverse shores.

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Publishers Weekly

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In this elegant, fast-paced, and judicious cultural and religious history, journalist O'Shea, author of The Perfect Heresy , provides a remarkable glimpse into the origins of the conflicts between Christians and Muslims as well as their once peaceful coexistence.

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The Bookbag

Arguably, the emergence of Islam as a religion and more earthly powers of dar-Islam, defined Europe as it is now, and still - perhaps more now than for a long time - informs our understanding of current conflicts and exerts a powerful influence even on those who have the temerity to see themselve...

Dec 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Sea of Faith: Islam and Chris...

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