History Today

God’s Crucible is a fluid 473-page panegyric of Islam and a visceral diatribe against the Christian West.  Significantly, in the Index, one finds under al-Andalus the inevitable entry on “Christian fanaticism” but searches in vain for a reference to “Islamic fanaticism” or anything remotely analogous to it.

Levering Lewis’s thesis is not new, having often been stated in many academic and popular venues, including purported documentaries: Islam has been a dynamic force in history.  From Islamic Spain (“Al-Andalus”) came the best things that ignorant Europe needed to emerge from its state of cultural stupor in the early (“Dark”) Middle Ages.  Moreover, it is a great pity that Islamic Spain, long a model of tolerance, multiculturalism, and intellectual and social progress, disappeared.

The last two claims are nonsense; the first, some scholars today would at least dispute.  The following passage represents the sort of insight Levering Lewis offers his reader:

Most of history is indisputably written by the winners, yet “winning” at Poitiers actually meant that the economic, scientific, and cultural levels that Europeans attained in the thirteenth century could almost certainly have been achieved more than three centuries earlier had they been included...

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