The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons
How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization

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Synopsis

For centuries following the fall of Rome, western Europe was a
benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy,
and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling
those Europeans fortunate enough to catch even a glimpse of the
scientific advances coming from Baghdad, Antioch, or the cities of
Persia, Central Asia, and Muslim Spain. T here, philosophers,
mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of
knowledge and revitalizing the works of Plato and Aristotle. I n the
royal library of Baghdad, known as the House of Wisdom, an army of
scholars worked at the behest of the Abbasid caliphs. At a time when the
best book collections in Europe held several dozen volumes, the House
of Wisdom boasted as many as four hundred thousand. Even
while their countrymen waged bloody Crusades against Muslims, a handful
of intrepid Christian scholars, thirsty for knowledge, traveled to Arab
lands and returned with priceless jewels of science, medicine, and
philosophy that laid the foundation for the Renaissance. I n this
brilliant, evocative book, Lyons shows just how much "Western" culture
owes to the glories of medieval Arab civilization, and reveals the
untold story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.
 

About Jonathan Lyons

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Jonathan Lyons served as an editor and foreign correspondent-mostly in the Muslim world-for Reuters for more than twenty years. He is now a researcher at the Global Terrorism Research Center and a Ph.D. candidate in the sociology of religion, both at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
 
Published February 5, 2011 by Bloomsbury Press. 250 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The House of Wisdom

Kirkus Reviews

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Wading through centuries of anti-Muslim propaganda, Lyons traces how the brilliance of Arab knowledge, brought back by visiting scholars from intellectual centers like Baghdad, Antioch and Cordoba, transformed Western notions of science and philosophy.

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The Guardian

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The great Arabic philosophers such as Ibn Sina in Iran (known in Latin Europe as Avicenna, who died in 1037) and Ibn Rushd in Spain (Averroes, who died in 1198) found ways of inserting Aristotelian natural philosophy and Ptolemaic cosmology into a scriptural monotheism, which was precisely what t...

Feb 28 2009 | Read Full Review of The House of Wisdom: How the ...

Scotsman.com

Larger than this, however, and potentially more dangerous, is the ignorance of Muslim and Arab culture that has licensed a unilateral response to problems in the Middle East.

Feb 19 2009 | Read Full Review of The House of Wisdom: How the ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Even while their countrymen waged bloody Crusades against Muslims, a handful of intrepid Christian scholars, thirsty for knowledge, traveled to Arab lands and returned with priceless jewels of science, medicine, and philosophy that laid the foundation for the Renaissance.

Feb 16 2009 | Read Full Review of The House of Wisdom: How the ...

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