SPAIN UNDER THE CRESCENT MOON
SPAIN UNDER THE CRESCENT MOON Angus Macnab This is the most entrancing book on Moorish Spain since Washington Irving’s Tales from the Alhambra. It may be even more so, because, where Moorish Spain is concerned, truth is usually stranger than fiction. Spain Under the Crescent Moon is composed of a series of historical sketches so irresistibly readable that they might have been lifted straight from the Arabian Nights— except that, unlike Scheherazade, he quotes unimpugnable historical sources for every wonder he recounts. The book is highly relevant to the pressing contemporary problem of how to relate to the Islamic world. The history of Moorish Spain shows that the question is not a new one, and it seems beyond doubt that the solutions (because they came from a deeper level) reached during the many centuries of Christian-Muslim co-existence were more intelligent than the superficial and often ill-informed blundering so common in this area today. Macnab writes deftly on art and history, chivalry and religion, Christian and Muslim kings, and Christian and Muslim holy men. His narrative is an open window into an age of faith. He describes Arab accomplishments in poetry, music and fine manners, as well as in the more familiar domains of architecture and calligraphy; the Alhambra at Granada being (with the possible exception of the Taj Mahal) the most renowned Islamic building in the world. He paints a fascinating picture of Islamic mysticism in a manner that recalls Ibn `Arabi’s account of the spiritual guides and Sufi masters. Spain Under the Crescent Moon is a rich source of delight and new understanding.