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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Book Review - Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World – Stephen O’Shea

This book had caught by eye at Borders. The cover art is a 14th century Syrian painting of horseman galloping around a body of water. I admit to being somewhat curious about the history of Islam, due to recent events in the world, and immediately added the book to my reading list. I was most pleased when it showed up in the new book section of my local library.

The author uses a series of battles from the 7th century to the 16th to examine the interactions of Christians and Muslims throughout their shared history, noting that they shared a common belief that they were the proper inheritors of the Roman Empire, and therefore all the lands around the Mediterranean.

I love history, but I’ve tended to be Western Europe-oriented, and though I’m aware of such momentous events as the fall of Constantinople, I’m not as familiar with that area, despite having visited a part of the former Yugoslavia. I’ve read far more about France, and never been there.

I definitely need to read more history of the Byzantine Empire, as well as Muslim Spain. They were both such fascinating areas at their height, just from the little bit I was able to get from this book, even where it was related to battles. I’ve also gained more respect for Islam, a religion that at times came out looking far less blood-thirsty, and far more enlightened than the Christians of that period.

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