Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization by Paul Kriwaczek
Although I see this book received mixed reviews on Amazon, I’m willing to give it a chance. The blurb says: For centuries following the fall of Rome, Western Europe was a benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy, and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling those Europeans fortunate enough to visit cities like Baghdad or Antioch. There, philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of knowledge, as well as keeping alive the works of Plato and Aristotle. When the best libraries in Europe held several dozen books, Baghdad's great library, The House of Wisdom, housed four hundred thousand. Jonathan Lyons shows just how much "Western" ideas owe to the Golden Age of Arab civilization. Even while their countrymen waged bloody Crusades against Muslims, a handful of intrepid Christian scholars, hungry for knowledge, traveled East and returned with priceless jewels of science, medicine, and philosophy that laid the foundation for the Renaissance. In this brilliant, evocative book, Jonathan Lyons reveals the story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.
I was lucky enough to receive this wonderful anthology as a Christmas present. I have already dipped into it and it’s just wonderful. The blurb says: Myths are the timeless expression of the imagination born out of the need to make sense of the universe. Moving across the centuries, they resonate with our deepest feelings about the fragility and grandeur of existence. Mythology is a comprehensive, richly illustrated survey of the mythic imagination in all its forms around the world, from the odysseys, quests, and battles of ancient Greece and Rome to the living beliefs of indigenous cultures in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. Looking at each major myth-making culture in turn, this book retells some of the most significant and captivating stories in a lively, contemporary style. Generously illustrated with more than 700 color photographs, Mythology brings you the vibrant stories that echo time and again in our lives.
by Fiona Ingram