The biography of a city: Jerusalem

S. Sebag Monefiore, Jerusalem: the biography, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 2011. Jerusalem: The biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore was one of those books that had been in my reading list for months, literally months, before I decided to read it. This has much to do with the material size of the book: 406 pages with…

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 Monuments on the Road to Oxiana

Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana is certainly one of the best-known and most-read travelogues: ‘perhaps the best travel book of the 20th century’, it’s book no. 40 in the list of the 100 best nonfiction books of The Guardian. The book is a marvelous and addictive account of the 10-month-long journey of Robert Byron across the…

“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…

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…