Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery

Overview

With elegance and erudition, Lewis explores that climactic year of 1492 as a clash of civilizations - a clash not only of the New World and the Old but also of Christendom, Islam, and the Jews. In the same year that Columbus set sail across the Atlantic, he reminds us, the Spanish monarchs captured Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the peninsula, and also expelled the Jews. Lewis uses these three epochal events to explore the nature of the expansion of Europe, placing the voyages of discovery in a striking ...
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Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery

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Overview

With elegance and erudition, Lewis explores that climactic year of 1492 as a clash of civilizations - a clash not only of the New World and the Old but also of Christendom, Islam, and the Jews. In the same year that Columbus set sail across the Atlantic, he reminds us, the Spanish monarchs captured Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the peninsula, and also expelled the Jews. Lewis uses these three epochal events to explore the nature of the expansion of Europe, placing the voyages of discovery in a striking new context. He traces Christian Europe's path from primitive backwater on the edges of the vast cosmopolitan Caliphate, through the heightening rivalry of Christianity and Islam, to the triumph of the West, examining the factors behind their changing fortunes. That contest long remained more important in many Christians minds than the New World: as late as 1683, Vienna almost fell to the Ottoman armies. Lewis also reflects on changing qualities in European and Islamic cultures and the place of the Jews in both. The Jews who fled Spain found a receptive environment in Turkey; but the balance of tolerance and openness to innovation steadily shifted west. The voyages of discovery were themselves a part of the Christian-Muslim conflict, he writes, an attempt to outflank the Islamic world. The European explorers sailed into a world they scarcely understood; and yet they imposed their own perceptions of geography on the lands they conquered. Africa, Asia, the Middle and Far East, the Old and New Worlds - as intellectual concepts, all are European creations, Lewis observes; ironically, these same definitions have been accepted by even the most anti-Western activists.

Our leading historian of Islam takes a revealing look at the Muslim-Christian conflict in the age of discovery. Bernard Lewis's balanced, insightful account of this pivotal era transcends the recent polemics about 1492, providing readers with a striking portrait of an age often obscured by the anger and complacency of today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A fascinating and necessary text. A must-read for anyone interested in Europe at one of its most striking moments. The text balances out our understanding of Islam and its impact on Europe."--James Lusueur, University of La Verne

"The author avoids simplistic, good guy-bad guy interpretations; there are plenty of sins to go around."--The Dallas Morning News

"A sharply etched picture....Neither blindly celebratory nor unthinkingly self-flagellating, it offers a vivid interpretation of all three of the major events of 1492....Civilized, humane, [and] erudite over an enormous range."--Times Literary Supplement

"An elegant book."--Kirkus Reviews

"Lewis writes with unsurpassed erudition and grace."--The Washington Times

"Lewis's Western orientation and definitive knowledge of Eastern life and religion lead him to some unusual deductions that are well thought out and presented. This short course in the Age of Discovery should prove a useful tool."--Susan H. Woodcock, School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195102833
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 126
  • Sales rank: 947,513
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.31 (h) x 0.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Lewis

About the Author:
Bernard Lewis is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, at Princeton University. His many books include The Shaping of the Modern Middle East, Islam and the West, Race and Slavery in the Middle East, and The Muslim Discovery of Europe.

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    1. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 31, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of London, 1936; Diplome des Etudes Semitiques, University of Paris, 1937; Ph.D., University of London,

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