For centuries following the fall of Rome, western Europe was a benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy, and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arabic culture thrived, dazzling the few Europeans who glimpsed the scientific advances coming from the capitals of the Islamic world. In Baghdad’s royal library, known as the House of Wisdom, an army of scholars broke new ground in astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy, among other disciplines.
Even as their countrymen waged bloody crusades against Muslims, a handful of Christian scholars traveled east and returned with priceless knowledge that laid the foundations of the Renaissance. In this brilliant, evocative work, Lyons reveals the untold story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.
Jonathan Lyons served as editor and foreign correspondent - mostly in the Muslim world - for Reuters for more than 20 years. He is now a researcher at the Global Terrorism Research Center and a PhD candidate in sociology of religion, both at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.