Arabia Felix: why everyone should read the story of a failure

“On a calm winter morning, on 4th January, 1761, a company of five men, clad for a journey, were rowed out from the Tollbooth into the shipping roads of Copenhagen. […] They were bound for “Happy Arabia”, but none of them seemed particularly happy at the thought”. This is how Thorkild Hansen starts his book ,…

The Making of the Islamic Heritage

Every time I start a book review I ask myself why I bought the book. In this case, I think I had been intrigued by the name, and I decided to ‘buy’ it once I realized it could be downloaded for free (legally), without me chasing the publisher to have a review copy. The full…

The story of the book: The Road to Oxiana

  The Road to Oxiana is considered Byron’s masterpiece. In the form of a travelogue, the book is an accurate reportage of the long, exotic journey of Byron and his friend Christopher Sykes. It is extremely romantic thinking of Robert Byron, on those snowy days blocked in Qala i Now, writing the diary at length, writing down…

“The Theory of Islamic Art”, by I. M. Hanash

I. M. Hanash, The Theory of Islamic Art, Aesthetic Concept and Epistemic Structure, The International Institute of Islamic Thought, London – Washington 2017. When dealing with Islamic art, it is good, from time to time, to step back, and look at the bigger picture. Going from the particular – the object studied – to the general – what…

“The Silk Roads” by Peter Frankopan

P. Frankopan, The Silk Roads. A new history of the world, Bloomsbury, London – New York 2015. ‘Greek mythology had it that Zeus, father of the gods, released two eagles, one at each end of the earth, and commanded them to fly towards each other. A sacred stone, the omphalos – the navel of the world –…

The definition of Islamic Art – sources and comments

It is quite clear that I am highly interested in the definition of Islamic Art. And of course I am not the only one. Surfing the internet it is possible to find contributions and essays (open-access) asking questions and giving old and new perspectives on an issue that is far from be settled. Recently the…

Forthcoming publications – 2015

The new year is coming, and it is time to see what we will find in the near future in our libraries about Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, with a focus on ‘medieval period’.

“The Representation of Islam in British Museums”, by I. Heath

I. Heath, The Representation of Islam in British Museums, Archaeopress, Oxford 2007. The book can be purchased on Archaeopress website. According to the Collins English Dictionary Online, a museum is “a place or building where objects of historical, artistic, or scientific interest are exhibited, preserved, or studied”. This definition is pretty neutral, not considering how a…

“Lost Islamic History”, by F. Alkhateeb

F. Alkhateeb, Lost Islamic History. Reclaiming Muslim Civilization from the Past, Hurst & Company, London 2014. Lost Islamic History is a famous blog, greatly followed by people interested in the history of Islam and of Muslim communities through ages. It is not specialized in one particular topic, and actually it provides information on different subjects, from…

Must read for studying Islamic epigraphy (open access…of course)

When dealing with inscriptions some sources need to be read… an epigraphist, an amateur, a curious, in fact everyone interested in any level in the study of Islamic epigraphy should read some books, just as someone who likes English literature need to read Shakespeare. Thankfully, the World Wide Web provides us with sources otherwise available…