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I read/listened to this book at roughly the same time as God Is Not Great. In the latter, Christopher Hitchens ruminates about the disparaging influences of all religions including Islam. The House of Wisdom does not posit to argue to the contrary as some reviewers would have us believe. The book is about, and perhaps sometimes incompletely, the influence of Arab and Muslim (not always the same people) thought, discovery and invention on the West prior to the Renaissance. Such influences included advances in most fields of intellectual endeavor: astronomy, mathematics, physics, engineering, navigation, geography, medicine, architecture, chemistry and finance to mention only some. Possibly because of my Catholic education, I don't remember so much about these Middle Eastern contributions and how some of an important, historically lost people of that area transformed Western Civilization . Maybe because they were never taught. If like me you would like to learn more, here is that opportunity.
For me, this was not an easy read/listen. Lyons was a former Reuters reporter in the Middle East for over 20 years. I expected something more accessible from a reporter. Instead, I found an intellectual paragon writing of people, places, times and events as alien to me as any subject could be. How valid all of it is I do not know. But it does seem well-researched and Jonathan Lyons does not seem to be an author with an agenda other than that of enlightening his readers. The book was for me a lot like Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, a book that I enjoyed even more. If this is a subject and time that interests you and particularly if you are a fan of history, I don't think that you will be disappointed.
13 of 16 people found this review helpful
It repeats over and over the same concepts. Looks more as a collection of other books data, than a book itself. Not worthy.
8 of 14 people found this review helpful
As a person with an interest in Arabia i bought this book hoping to learn something about the Arab people and their contribution to science and culture . Instead you get to listen to a badly written and poorly read narrative, which has little of substance and seems to be poorly veiled religious propaganda. Sadly for this reason it probably confirms the stereo type rather than its intended purpose of opening the eyes of the world to the contribution of the region to modern science and culture and in this they have done the Arab world an injustice
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
That is the type of history I enjoy the most. It shows how the whole of humanity has worked together for the betterment of society. It shows what unites us all and shows a better way to work together in future by looking at our mutual past.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful