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Friday, December 12, 2008

Lost history - book review

This is a review of the book called "Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists" By Michael Hamilton Morgan.

When I saw the title of this book, I was intrigued and I wanted to see what information the book contains. The book reads like a historical narrative, which was something that I did not expect. It trys to explain the current situation or state Muslims find themselves into and then goes back in time to a different age. This did get annoying, after he had done this several times.

Some of the information is new to me, most information is! It's a well written book with one major draw back, there is very little is the way of original sourcing. So it is difficult to quote from a text which cannot back itself up by an original source. Of course, this book does focus on some parts of history and not others. There is a section of the text describing the defeat of the Abdurrahman al-Ghafiqi in France against Charles Martel. He also looks at the loss of Muslim Spain and the final losses of the Ottoman Empire.

There are many personalities mentioned, for example Ibn Firnas, Ahmed Celabi (both poineers in flying), Ibn Sina (his text Al-Qanun used as a medical text for over 900 years), Al-Nafis (builds on Ibn Sinas work and finds how blood cirulates), Zakaria Al-Razi (writes a text on smallpox) and many others.

Here is an interesting quote (which is also unsourced) from David King:

"Virtually all innovations in [astronomical] instrumentation in Europe up to ca. 1550 were either directly or indirectly Islamic in origin or had been conceived previously by some Muslim astronomer somewhere."

The book is worth reading for those interested in the subject and anyone new to the subject.

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