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The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance

The House of Wisdom How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance A myth shattering view of the Islamic world s myriad scientific innovations and the role they played in sparking the European Renaissance Many of the innovations that we think of as hallmarks of Weste

  • Title: The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance
  • Author: Jim Al-Khalili
  • ISBN: 9781594202797
  • Page: 197
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A myth shattering view of the Islamic world s myriad scientific innovations and the role they played in sparking the European Renaissance Many of the innovations that we think of as hallmarks of Western science had their roots in the Arab world of the middle ages, a period when much of Western Christendom lay in intellectual darkness Jim al Khalili, a leading British IrA myth shattering view of the Islamic world s myriad scientific innovations and the role they played in sparking the European Renaissance Many of the innovations that we think of as hallmarks of Western science had their roots in the Arab world of the middle ages, a period when much of Western Christendom lay in intellectual darkness Jim al Khalili, a leading British Iraqi physicist, resurrects this lost chapter of history, and given current East West tensions, his book could not be timelier With transporting detail, al Khalili places readers in the hothouses of the Arabic Enlightenment, shows how they led to Europe s cultural awakening, and poses the question Why did the Islamic world enter its own dark age after such a dazzling flowering

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      Posted by:Jim Al-Khalili
      Published :2018-09-15T10:24:09+00:00

    1 thought on “The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance

    1. Jim Al-Khalili has managed to take a fascinating subject--and make it seem boring. The book floods the reader with facts, names, places, with the hope that the reader will make sense of it all. There are interesting insights in this book, but they are scattered throughout the book, and not easy to find. This book reads like a history major's doctoral thesis. This is unfortunate, because it is clear that the author has put an enormous amount of research into this book. But I felt like I was drown [...]

    2. An interesting feature of al-Idrisi's map, as with all medieval Arabic maps, is that it is drawn upside down, with the north at the bottom.I've read a couple of other books on this subject, and in terms of thoroughness and synthesis, it's definitely the best one. It seemed extensively and carefully researched. It's arranged narratively, flowing through time from one time and place and person to another, making detours and links where appropriate, so it's the kind of book you'd want to read cover [...]

    3. A well written, insightfull and smart read.Jim Al-Khalili is obviusly proud of his roots. And i like that.Without being to missionary about it, he makes a good point in the fact that the Mideastern knowledge that started in Mesopotamian times and evolved all the way through our dark ages until the renaissance, was very influential on the occidents development of not only medicine, or architecture but also poetry, astronomie and art.The questions of how and why the Islamic knowledge is suddenly r [...]

    4. 'The House of Wisdom' is a thorough history of science in the Arabic countries up to the fifteenth century.Besides including biographies of early Arabic scientists, British-Iraqi physicist and author Jim al-Khalili shows how individual Arabic geniuses and polymaths eagerly sought Ancient Greek texts on science, encouraged by the leaders of Middle-Eastern empires to do so. Libraries and universities were built, experimentation was funded, brilliant students were encouraged, and ideas were freely [...]

    5. Excellent book filling in the gap of Western Civ. history. Answering how we left the Dark Ages and entered the Renaissance with shared knowledge, not our own invention. A strong case for world peace, understanding and tolerance.While chemistry, algebra, medicine and so much more are written about, my favorite quote is "I shall mention in passing just one example of a gift from the Arabs that I for one am rather grateful: coffee - especially as it was originally banned in Europe as a 'Muslim drin [...]

    6. Jim Al Khalili is a physicist whose family has deep roots in one of the culturally leading families of Iraq. His mother and first name are British and he was born and raised in Britain making him ideal to mediate between Islamic and European cultures in describing the wonders of this House. The founding of the "House of Wisdom" by Al Mamun in the 800s A.D. (C.E.) was necessitated by dream in which the instructions came right from Aristotle. However, Islamic culture did more than just conserve cl [...]

    7. I'm a long-time reader of books on the history of science. I'm fascinated with non-European cultures and have been reading heavily in that topic area. So this book should have been perfect for me, but instead it bored me. Too often it read like a string of names and places with very little substantive information about the people being discussed. The author covers so many people that none of them are given much space save for a few mathematicians whose contributions are discussed so technically [...]

    8. This book was excellent, beginning with the massive translation effort of known texts from Greek and Roman scientists into Arabic during the Abbāsid Caliphate and the subsequent pursuit of and development of chemistry, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics by Arabic-literate peoples (al-Khalili characterizes the science being done by its common language of communication, which at that time was Arabic rather than Latin or English -- the scientists he highlights were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and [...]

    9. (This review is originally published at eventgate)At school, one only gets to learn what he is taught. In the case of students in the Arab World, we only got to learn about Western scientists like Galileo and Einstein. It would be unfair though to claim that our curriculums left us entirely ignorant of our Arab and Muslim scientists because their names are still very familiar. Though their achievements may not. Feeling truly ashamed, I picked up Jim Al-Khalili's Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Ar [...]

    10. Interesting so far.I was one of those guilty of the simplistic reading of history that says Greek and Latin thought was absorbed into the Islamic Caliphate, translated, preserved and ultimately re-entered European thought kick-starting the enlightenment and the age of reason, without appreciating all the novel and new contributions that the arabic authors added to this pantheon of wisdom and learning.Gradually in the last few years I've become increasingly aware of the arabic influence on, in pa [...]

    11. I learned about evolution in high school biology class (no one thought to mention it before this time), and I certainly never learned about (Allah forbid) the Arabs/Muslims/Islam in history class. (And I went to New Trier!) I learned about the "Closing of the Western Mind" by reading Charles Freeman's book of the same name, the same man who writes about the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, antiquity, etc. (This book is well worth a read!) The closing of the western mind allowed the eastern mind to ope [...]

    12. Jim Al-Khalili takes you on a journey to explore the golden age of Arabic science which occured during Europes' dark ages. It is commonly thought (and this is the view I had during history class in school) that the great scientists were the Greeks, and the Renessaince masters.In 'Pathfinders' you learn about some of the greatest masters and polymaths of the Arab world at the time all intertwined with historical tellings of the khalifs, mongols and others. In reading 'Pathfinders' you will learn [...]

    13. There are books that are badly written. There are books that are factually incorrect. There are books whose intellectual underpinnings are a mess. Then, there are books that are all of the above. The House of Wisdom is supposed to show how the Arabic world saved all the ancient knowledge of the world, expanded upon it, and reintroduced it into the west when the time was right. Instead, House of Wisdom is a poorly written and horribly argued car crash pushed in the reader's face with a maximum of [...]

    14. Very poor. Perhaps I expected something incisive and insightful, but it's a typically confused "sci pop" or rather "history of ideas light" book. In fact, I think it might have been an offshoot of a TV series.So, it's not like the author is not an expert. It's just that he does not know what is he writing and for whom. The history bit is way too light, the history of ideas bit slides into taxonomy too quickly ("and this is what they did in chemistry, and this is what they did in algebra") and th [...]

    15. Enjoyable read, very informative and a subject that I now realise I knew very little about. Enjoyed the quotes from medieval scientists extolling the benefits of scientific analysis over blind faith - 1000 years later and this argument needs brought to the fore again sadly, in all parts of the world. Also fascinated to discover the derivation of many scientific and mathematical words is so obviously Arabic once someone points it out (algorithm, algebra, alkali, etc).

    16. Really interesting book on the contributions made by Arabic scientists, many of which are either unknown or under appreciated in the west. From the invention of algebra (an Arabic word al-jebr); advances in medicine, astronomy, engineering, economics. It really makes the point that Arabic scientists made important and revolutionary contributions to science as well as providing links between the Ancient Greek world and the Renaissance in Europe.

    17. جميل جدا لولا بعض السرد المطول في إجزاء منه. كل عربي بحاجة لمعرفة تاريخ أمته من منظور الغرب الذي يدين للعرب بالفضل، ليس فقط من منظور الجملة التي يرددها كثيرون ولا يعرفون شيئا عن تفاصيلها "الغرب تعلم من حضارة المسلمين"تعلم ماذا؟هل يمكنك ذكر أسماء من تعلموا منهم من علمائنا؟كم ا [...]

    18. I was surprised that this book is the same of the house of wisdom, they should mentioned this on the cover, I read the book and reviewed it in the page of the house of wisdom.

    19. Very readable overview of a topic that is woefully underappreciated by a lot of people. A frustrating theme runs through it whereby great work was put in jeopardy by combative rulers or religious pressures and their egos (both from within and outside Islamic culture). A trait that's far too common throughout history, makes you wonder what we could achieve if we stopped letting power corrupt so much.

    20. Man was sure an experience reading this book. I first heard of it last year, back sometime around July 2013. My local library got a grant to acquire some different books on Arabic and Islamic culture to promote people across America to learn more about Islam and Arabic culture in general. I've always really, really wanted to study Islam, as I've mentioned before in other reviews, because more or less up to this year, I didn't know a thing about it. This book was one that my library got and I che [...]

    21. Al-Khalili goes to great lengths in The House of Wisdom to document and celebrate every historical Arabic, Persian, or more generally, any Islamic effort to sustain, promote and advance scientific, mathematical, or astronomical discovery. While reading this book, it came across to me that his main objective was to prove that the Arab world had something to offer in these fields of study, too.I would have liked to have read more detail about the individual lives of the many Arabs and Persians (an [...]

    22. Jim Al-Khalili has provided us with a wonderful book that discusses something that most readers from Western cultures do not know: that it was the Islamic Empire which saved the learning of Western antiquity for the West. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in medieval studies, international scholarship, in the European Renaissance. A portion of my review at the New York Journal of Books said, "The Islamic Golden Age is traditionally dated from the middle of the 8th century to t [...]

    23. I have seen the documentary (Science and Islam - BBC) that Jim has done before, and I wanted to get a better grasp on my history, so I bought the book.It's a very good book, with many references to many names, as an Arab I was taught many of those names, but like Jim says in the last chapter, we heard only of those names in history lessons, which really tended to be so boring back in my days, I assume they're more boring now. Only few science teachers ever mentioned these great names in their cl [...]

    24. Just finished this book. And to write a review for it, I just checked other reviews so as to choose good words to describe this luminous work of Al-Khalili. But then closed the page for the reason that whatever mediocre words I'm going to choose, it will be with a sincere heart anyway. So back to the motto! It's a well written and insightful book. Although some of its parts, like where he goes into details about latitudes or mathematics, I didn't understand fully, because of an average person's [...]

    25. I did not understand what was "Golden" about the "Golden Age". What I learned is that there were some clever people who documented existing knowledge and then thought about it, providing some advancement in some fields. That is something which has happened throughout history is is in itself hardly remarkable.What I missed is a clear indication what the knowledge was before the "Golden Age" and what the level was after the "Golden Age" and then describing the delta and attributing it to a discove [...]

    26. كتاب الرواد يلقي الضوء على عظماء تناستهم كتب التاريخ، ساهموا في مسيرة البشر العلمية. عظماء امثال جابر ابن حيان، الكندي، الخوارزمي، ابن الهيثم، ابن سينا، البيروني، الفارابي، الجاحظ، الجزري، ابن خلدون، عمر الخيام، الرازي، وغيرهم الكثير. بروفيسور الفيزياء النظرية (العراقي ا [...]

    27. I expected more. This would work better as a tv series rather than as a book. I would have wanted more details especially on al-Biruni and al-Haytham.

    28. I wanted to love this book so, so badly. And in a way, I do. But this book suffers from arabicentrism much like European history of science suffers from eurocentrism, and it fails to be convincing on 3 important points:1. You don't fight fire with fire. A good nonfiction book has a clear premise and an agenda. This one is set to prove that major European scientific breakthroughs were possible thanks to previous advancements in Arabic science (in separating astronomy from astrology, in creating m [...]

    29. For a layman's book, it's a little heavy on its various subjects. There's a serious emphasis on history early on (which is necessary to put everything into context, but still a lot of information relatively quickly), and then various spots where the math gets very in-depth. Overall, though, an excellent read. I learned a bunch of stuff, and I have a better, more rounded view of both the middle ages and the history of scientific discoveries.

    30. I really enjoyed reading this book and learned a lot about science during the Islamic golden age. Jim's style is really easy to read and engaging and I was able to finish the book in a week. It includes examples from different sciences, such as mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. The book also teaches you a lot about history. I highly recommend the book.

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