When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty [NOOK Book]

Overview


The "golden age of Islam" in the eighth and ninth centuries was as significant to world history as the Roman Empire was in the first and second centuries. The rule of Baghdad's Abbasid Dynasty stretched from Tunisia to India, and its legacy influenced politics and society for years to come. In this deftly woven narrative, Hugh Kennedy introduces us to the rich history and flourishing culture of the period, and the men and women of the palaces at Baghdad and Samarra-the caliphs, viziers, eunuchs, and women of the...
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When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty

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Overview


The "golden age of Islam" in the eighth and ninth centuries was as significant to world history as the Roman Empire was in the first and second centuries. The rule of Baghdad's Abbasid Dynasty stretched from Tunisia to India, and its legacy influenced politics and society for years to come. In this deftly woven narrative, Hugh Kennedy introduces us to the rich history and flourishing culture of the period, and the men and women of the palaces at Baghdad and Samarra-the caliphs, viziers, eunuchs, and women of the harem that produced the glorious days of the Arabian Nights.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
These days Baghdad is associated with violence and insurgency. But more than a thousand years ago, during the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad was a center of the arts and sciences, a city of dreams and limitless opportunities. This eminently entertaining book by respected British historian Kennedy focuses on these glory days of Baghdad in the eighth and ninth centuries, and the city's eventual downfall. Firmly grounded in the original Arabic literary sources of the era, Kennedy (Mongols, Huns and Vikings) emphasizes the amazing personalities of the period, such as Caliph Harun al-Rashid (mythologized in The Arabian Nights) and his powerful queen Zubayda. Kennedy's account is not a dry political chronicle but rather full of stories of love, sex, power, corruption, sibling rivalry and political intrigue-for which he makes no apology. Kennedy does a superb job resurrecting the human dimension of the period, as in apt descriptions of life in Harun al-Rashid's harem or the various caliphs' decisions whether or not to wage war. He also provides a sophisticated account of the general cultural and political climate based on recent scholarship. Combining academic rigor and accessibility, this is compelling reading for anyone concerned with the perils of power, the medieval Islamic legacy and the images that Baghdad continues to conjure in the modern imagination. 24 pages of illus., 3 maps. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Kennedy unveils the rich world of the Abbasid caliphs.
Library Journal
In this beautifully written and definitive history of Baghdad, Kennedy (Middle Eastern history, Univ. of St. Andrews, Scotland) weaves a luminous narrative rich in detail, opening the doors to the old city and letting its secrets spill out. Relying on a variety of literary sources, he introduces Baghdad during the 750-1258 rule of the Abbasid dynasty, when it was the center of a vast Islamic empire that stretched from Morocco to Central Asia and its cultural influence reached far beyond its borders. The reader will see glorious Baghdad through its flourishing schools of thought, advanced administrative system, prolific Greek-to-Arabic translation movement, erotic stories, and the behind-the-curtain lives of the people of the palace. Kennedy tells the story of a city built on blood and poetry, with poetry emerging victorious in its streets. The general reader will find this history accessible and informative. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Sadiq Alkoriji, Tomball Coll. & Community Lib., Harris Cty., TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lively study of the Abbasid caliphate, the greatest power in the Islamic world for 200 years. A century after Muhammad's death, the Middle East was largely controlled by the Ummayad dynasty, which was not descended from the founder of Islam. Relatives of Muhammad resented that fact, reasoning that if they "could restore the rule of the Family of the Prophet, inequity and evil would be banished for ever." It didn't work out so neatly, writes Kennedy (History/Univ. of St. Andrews), for some of the Abbasids, who overthrew the Ummayads, had their share of problems-and, as Kennedy gamely promises, no small interest in "booze and sex." The tone-setting second caliph, Mansur, was conventionally pious; he was best known for being tight with a dirham, driving contractors to distraction with his mania for cutting costs while building his magnificent capital at Baghdad. (Arab history knows him as "Abu'l-dawaniq, the father of pennies, because he counted them all.") Yet Mansur was also "a political operator of genius" who had a knack for playing enemies off one another and for surviving intrigue; though not as monstrous as other regimes, his caliphate had plenty of blood on its hands. The fourth caliph, Harun al-Rashid, quite a political creature himself, made Baghdad a capital of an early golden age rightly celebrated in the Arabian Nights; yet on his death the country was plunged into civil war, rent by divisions that would take a more thoroughgoing sort of dictator to control. Saddam Hussein, it seems, learned a few lessons from his Abbasid predecessors, particularly Mutawwakil, "a prodigious builder of palaces" who constructed a string of expensive properties up and down the Tigris andEuphrates. His glory was short-lived; Mutawwakil was assassinated, and the caliphate that Mansur had painstakingly built collapsed. That event, Kennedy notes, marked "the demise of the unity of the Muslim world under a single sovereign" and the last time a major empire centered on Iraq. Nicely written, accessible history, rich in detail and most timely.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786736744
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 376
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author


Hugh Kennedy has taught in the Department of Mediaeval History at the University of St. Andrews since 1972. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2000. Professor Kennedy lives in St. Andrews, Scotland.
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Table of Contents

1 Revolution 1
2 Mansur and his legacy 11
3 Harun al-Rashid : the golden prime 51
4 The war between the brothers 85
5 Poetry and power at the early Abbasid court 112
6 Landscape with palaces 130
7 The harem 160
8 Ma'mun to Mutawwakil 200
9 Abbasid court culture 243
10 High noon in Samarra 261
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2010

    Re: Nook version

    I have not read this book. I downloaded the sample and a great variety of letters in the text appear as question marks on my Nook. This is probably a result of bad encoding of letters with diacritics. This is a poorly made ebook.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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