UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) — Digging Deeper CVI: December 7 & 14, 2009, 7:00 p.m.

David Levering Lewis, God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe (New York and London: W.W. Norton, January 2008; paperback January 2009). [Thesis. Westerners (especially Christians and Jews) are much more indebted to Muslim civilization than most realize.] List of Illustrations. 2 pp. List of Maps. 5 maps. Chronology. From 53 BCE to 1215 CE. 5 pp. Notes on Usage. Calendars; Arabic spelling; foreign words. Preface. Three months in Khartoum in 1982 (xxi-xxii). Pace European history as it is usually told, there was not a military defeat of Islam in Europe but rather an "epic forfeiture," after which Europe defined itself "in opposition to Islam, made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism, and perpetual war," and made a hero out of Roland, "an eighth-century prototype of the American cowboy" (xxii-xxiv). Lewis began the book on Sept. 11, 2001 (xxiv). Though Lewis's books seem in toto eclectic, they all deal with "the critical yet sympathetic exploration of lives exemplifying . . . courage or integrity, intellect or calculation in the face of injustice, religious exclusion, and organized plunder" (xxiv-xxv). Ch. 1: The Superpowers. Islam rose as Rome's imperial misadventure with Iran (or Persia used here interchangeably) caused its fall (3-13). The Byzantine Empire (14-17; Lewis prefers the term Graeco-Roman). The Sassanian Golden Age, whose achievements in the aftermath of the early 6th c. CE Mazdakite "revolution" were "spores of much of Islamic science, Ch. 2: "The Arabs Are Coming!" Muhammad's early life (29-33). Revelation and hijra to Yathrib (Medina) in 622 CE (33-40). Muhammad's last years (40-51). The problem of succession (51-52). The Qur'an (53-56). Ch. 3: "Jihad!" The East Roman Empire under Heraclius defeats the Sassanian Iranian empire under Khosrow II [Kosrau Parvez], which began a sudden collapse after the battle of Nineveh (627 CE) (5770). This facilitated the Muslim conquest of Syria, Palestine, Libya, Egypt, then Persia (70-76), and the conquest of Jerusalem (637) in the Egyptian campaign (76-84). Ch. 4: The Co-opted Caliphate and the Stumbling Jihad. After Umar's assassination in 644 CE, Uthmar oversaw the compiling of the definitive Qur'an in 650 before he was killed in 656, to be succeeded by Ali, also assassinated in 661 (85-92). Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan, the first Umayyad caliph, sought unity; in 680 at Karbala Ali's son Husayn was defeated and killed, but the split in Islam "hardened into the powerful and everlasting theological antithesis of Shi'ism" (97; 92-98). Umar II repaired Umayyad finances (98-101). Musa ibn Nusayr brought the Berbers into the fold through diplomacy (101-04). Ch. 5: The Year 711. The fall of the Roman Empire began with the Gothic victory at Adrianople in 378 (105-08). The Goths sacked Rome in 410 (108). The late-5th-century Visigothic kingdom, culture, religious practice, and military organization" (21; 18-21). War between the Eastern Roman Empire and Iran (2123). Its effect on Arabia (23-26). Mecca, dominated by the Quraysh tribe (26-28).

stretching from the Atlantic to the Loire, lost most of its territory in Gaul after Clovis's victory at the Battle of Bouillé in 507 (109-11). Visigothic Spain was built on slavery (111-13). It converted from Arianism to Roman Catholicism in 589 (113-15). Virulent anti-Semitism (11517). Tariq ibn Ziyad's invasion of Visigothic Hispania in 711 (117-27). Second invasion by Musa ibn Musayr in 712-713 (127-32). Shortly after Tariq and Musa visited Damascus, Sulayman became caliph; he tried but failed to take Constantinople (132-36). Ch. 6: Picking Up the Pieces after Rome. In retrospect, "the logic of Europe's creation as a coherent culture and polity inhered in the commencing coordination and collaboration of the bishopric of Rome and the regime of the Catholic Franks," in the early 8th century these institutions were still in utero (138; 137-38). Clovis converted the Franks to Catholicism and expelled the Visigoths from Gaul after the Battle of Vouillé, near Poitiers, in 507 (138-41). The Lex Salica became "the founding charter of the evolving European mindset" (142). But Clovis's Merovingian kingdom collapsed after his death in 511 (142-44). A Lombard kingdom arose in northern Italy; the Frankish kingdom dwindled (144-47). Ignoble origins of Charles Martel (14752). Rudimentary economy of the time (152-53). The assassination of Musa ibn Musayr's son in 714 was followed by a "prolonged period of political turbulence . . . al-Andalus . . . due partly to power politics swirling around the caliphate [in Damascus] and partly to ethnic and tribal conflicts among the Andalusi Berbers and Arabs" (154-55; 153-57). Duke Odo of Aquitaine defeated a Muslim army in the Battle of Toulouse in 721, "a dress rehearsal for a confrontation a few years later upon which historians have lavished epic significance" (159; 157-59).

Ch. 7: The Myth of Poitiers. For many years little was known about the Battle of Poitiers [also called the Battle of Tours] in 732 except that it was fought "about a third of the distance from Poitiers to Tours"; its significance has been exaggerated by "choirs of Eurocentric historians" (160; 168). In the summer of 731, after Odo had given his daughter in a marriage of alliance to the Muslim walí of Cerdanya just across the Pyrenees, Charles Martel humiliated Odo militarily , or history might have attributed stopping the Muslims to him (161-64). In 732 'Abd Allah al-Ghafiqi, amir of al-Andalus, set out to conquer and occupy southwestern Gaul (165-68). Thanks to the research of Maurice Mercier and André Seguin (1944) and Jean-Henry Roy and Jean Deviosse (1966), we have "a vivid narrative of the historic combat as it may have unfolded over a seven-day period that climaxed on the plain just outside Moussais-laBataille" (168; 168-72). The Chronicle of 754 (supposedly) by Isidore (or Isidorus) Pacensis called the victors Europenses, the earliest use of 'European' (172). The victory "must be seen as greatly contributing to the creation of an economically retarded, balkanized, fratracidal Europe that, in defining itself in opposition to Islam, made virtues out of religious persecution, cultural particularism, and hereditary aristocracy" (174). Arabs and Berbers "would keep coming" for "another half century" (175). The economic, ecclesiastical, and political development of Frankland (from the Persian term, Frangistan; more commonly called Francia, the Frankish Empire [imperium Francorum] or the Frankish kingdom [regnum Francorum]) (175-83). Ch. 8: The Fall and Rise of the Umayyads. In 741, the year Charles Martel died, the Berbers revolted against the Umayyad Caliphate (184-88). The Syrian Balj ibn Bishr came to al-Andalus to put down the revolt, but transplanted the historical feud between northern and

southern Arabs (Qays and Yemenis) (18891). The loss by Hisham I (died 743 CE) of Berber support deprived Muslim militaries of soldiers (191-92). Revolts in Iranian Khurasan and Transoxania (Uzbekistan) followed (193-94). The first Abbasid caliph was declared in 749; Baghdad displaced Damascus; Persian cultural influence asserted itself (19495). A flattering portrait of Abd alRahman ("the Falcon"), founder of the Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba, which endured three centuries (195-202). A dazzling era of community, tolerance, convivencia, liberality to Jews, waterwheels, agriculture, trade, price controls, and law (202-07). Ch. 9: Saving the Popes. The Roman church faced extinction in the 8th century (209-14). The Franks were a last resort, in return for the popes making king in 754 Pippin the Short, the first Carolingian, and deposing the Merovingian line (214-19). The French church became a political institution and "served as the proving ground for the rise of a hierarchical, militant religious caste" (221; 220-23). Ch. 10: An Empire of Force and Faith. Carolus overcame his brother Carloman with his mother Bertrada, then sidelined her (224-33). His military campaigns as Charlemagne rescued the papacy by defeating the Lombards and created an extensive Carolingian "superstate" (243; 233-43). His Andalusian campaign (243-50). Ch. 11: Carolingian Jihads: Roncesvalles and Saxony. The aborted Andalusian campaign was "a humiliating reversal of fortune" from which Charlemagne recovered in his victorious campaigns in Saxony (253; 251-55). "Had the king's empire-building strategies failed in the aftermath of the retreat from Zaragoza, there would have been no Chanson de Roland, no literary transmuting of a military embarrassment

into a nation-molding epic of unique, perdurable potency. Roncesvalles's evolving mystique was to Saxony's killing fields what justification is to homicide. The historic and brutal Carthaginian peace eventually inflicted on the forest tribes living between the Rhine and the Elbe was ennobled over time as the work of selfless, Christian knighthood exemplified by Roland's imagined martyrdom" (254). The Song of Roland as genocidal epic (255-59). Roland served as a precursor to the type of upper-class—Frankish—superhero to the Western world (260-62). "The Roland saga . . . frame[s] the contact of Christianity and Islam as an epic struggle that can never end until Muhammad's legions will have been run to ground, defeated, and converted to the True Faith" (261). The Chanson de Roland was "Ur-text for the West" (262). An atrocity-prone Christianizing campaign against Widukind succeeded in 779-785, and Charlemagne promulgated an intolerant Saxon Capitulary that "would set the standard for correct Christian conduct" (following Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion [1998]) (267; 26268). Ch. 12: The Great Mosque. Three years before his death, the enlightened 'Abd al-Rahman I began the building of the Great Mosque of Cordoba (785-987 CE) (268-77). Security and prosperity characterized Umayyad Spain, vastly more advanced than society in Frankland (277-81). Ch. 13: The First Europe, Briefly. The Carolingian empire defeated the Avars by 795 (282-84). The Spanish March provided a barrier to Muslim Spain, but heretical ideas filtered through, like Adoptionism (the doctrine that Christ was only the adopted son of God) (284-85). As a social order, Charlemagne's empire was "religiously intolerant, intellectually impoverished, socially calcified, and economically primitive" (286; 286-91).

Muslims could not enslave other Muslims, but Christians justified enslaving other Christians (287). But Christianity imposed monogamy (290-91). Alcuin and the beginning of Western learning (292-95). Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) (29698). The problem of the role of the Church (299-300). Adrian I crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans in 800, sowing the first seed of what would become the secularism of the West (30003). Ch. 14: Equipoise—Delicate and Doomed. The cosmopolitan sophistication of Cordoba in the late 8th century CE (304-07). Hisham I, facing Carolingian designs on Catalunya (Catalonia) and constant military pressure from the north, declared a jihad in 793 CE that was continued in 796 by al-Hakam (307-12). 'Abd al-Rahman II (822-52 CE) prospered; Charlemagne's empire fractured in sibling rivalry as the Norsemen attacked, a collapse ratified in the Treaty of Verdun (843 CE) (312-14). Fanatical Christians, fearful of the successes of a tolerant Islam, began the aggressive resistance that would become the Reconquista in 844 at Clavijo, in Castile; this was continued by the Mozarabs (315-19). After a late-9thcentury decline, al-Andalus saw a glorious period under 'Abd al-Rahman III (912-961 CE) as France declined, losing part of the kingdom to the Norsemen (Normany), and Magyars impinged on German-speaking territories (319-21). The 9th and 10th centuries were a period of "delicate equipoise" of Christian and Muslim Europe (321-24). 'Abd al-Rahman II declared a caliphate in 929 CE (324). Cordoba had a library of 400,000 volumes of paper mss. when St. Gall had "a mere six hundred books, all of them in vellum (calfskin) or parchement (sheepskin)" (326). Its military ardor was declining (327). Gerbert of Aurillac mastered Arab mathemathics and published a revolutionary four-page textbook in the West in 980 (328-29).

The Golden Age of Sefarad (Jewish Iberia) in the 10th and 11th centuries CE, personified in the diplomat and physician Hasdai ibn Shaprut (915-970 CE) (33032). Ch. 15: Disequilibrium, Pelayo's Revenge. Despite its prosperity, in 9761009 CE Umayyad al-Andalus entered upon a period of fateful decline, with Abi Amir, a chancellor (hajib), dominating a weak caliph (Hisham) and using the chieftain of the military police who would be known to history as al-Mansur ('the Victorious') to turn al-Andalus into "a dictatorship," producing military and political triumphs that included the sack of Santiago de Compostela on Aug. 10, 997, and that would eventually prove fatally counterproductive (337; 333-41). Al-Mansur's son pried the hereditary caliphate away from Hisham (341-43). Beginning in 1009, the Umayyad Caliphate disintegrated into a politically dysfunctional but culturally innovative era of "ta'ifas, leaders of [Muslim] citystates in a vaccuum. They were the 'party kings' or 'petty kings' (muluk altawaif or reyes de ta'ifas) of Toledo, Badajoz, Sevilla, Granada, Valencia, Zaragoza, and more than a dozen other locales" (346; 343-51). To the north, Navarre consolidated power under Ferdinand I and a militant movement animated by a spirit radiating from monastic movements and papal imperialism overcame the ta'ifa kingdoms; Toledo fell in 1085 CE to Alfonso VI (the Brave) of Castile, "the beginning of the end [in 1492 CE] of Islam's long sojourn in Europe" (357; 351-57). The coming of "the fanatical Almoravids" (the Murabit) and later "the mystical Almohads—al-Muwahhidun ('the Unitarians')" from North Africa temporarily reversed the decline in the late 11th and 12th centuries (357-66). Ch. 16: Knowledge Transmitted, Rationalism Repudiated: Ibn Rushd and Musa Ibn Maymun. Andalusian

intellectual culture, centered in Cordoba, created "a basis of knowledge that would provide the foundation for the Renaissance in Christendom"; the transfer of knowledge was accelerated by the political collapse of Umayyad Spain, (368-69; 367-70). The rationalism of Ibn Rushd (Averroës) and of Musa ibn Maymun (Maimonides or Moshe ben Maimon), who wrote in Arabic except for the Mishneh Torah, his digest of Jewish law (371-77). But world history was moving in another direction: in 1212, at Las Navas de Tolosa, "the first war fought by Christians and Muslims exclusively as Muslims and Christians—a war between civilizations; three years later Pope Innocent III's Fourth Lateran Council extended Charlemagne's intolerant Saxon Capitulary "to all of Christendom" (377-79). Ferdinand III of Castile occupied Cordoba in 1236 CE (379). Acknowledgments. This volume was conceived six months before Sept. 11, 2001, as a small book (381). UCLA's Iran expert, Nikki Keddie, Princeton's Bernard Lewis and William Jordan, Arizona State's Chouki El Hamel (381). Other scholars and libraries (381-82). Research assistants (382-83). Foundations and friends (383). Publisher (383-84). Notes. 38 pp. Glossary. 9 pp. [About 220 terms briefly glossed.] Genealogies. Descendants of Pippin and Alpaida (434). Zirid Rulers of Ta'ifa Granada (ca. 1026-1090) (435). Almoravid Rulers in al-Andalus (ca. 10861145) (435). Almohad Rulers in alAndalus (ca.1121-1223). Umayyad Amirs and Caliphs in Cordoba (756-1031) (436). Rulers of Asturias-León, Then Portugal, León, and Castile (8th-13th centuries) (437). Bibliography. 10 pp. Primary; Reference Volumes; Secondary (439-

448). [Only one article from a scholarly journal, oddly.] Credits. For illustrations and genealogical tables (449). Index. 21 pp. About the Author. David Levering Lewis is Julius Silver University Professor at New York University. He is the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning two-volume biography of W.E.B. Du Bois. Lewis grew up in Wilberforce, OH, and Atlanta, GA. He defines himself as a student of comparative history. In the spring of 2008, when this book was published, he was a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. [Additional information. David Levering Lewis was born on May 25, 1936, in Little Rock, Arkansas. His mother was a HS math teacher and his father a HS principal. — He graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of 19 from Fisk University in 1956. He holds a 1959 M.A. in history from Columbia and a 1962 Ph.D. in modern European and French history from the London School of Economics. — He served in the U.S. Army in 1962-1963. He has taught at the Univ. of Ghana, Morgan State Univ. in Baltimore, the Univ. of Notre Dame, Howard Univ., the Univ. of California at San Diego, Harvard, and, from 1985 to 2003, at Rutgers. He is the author of the first academic biography of Martin Luther King Jr. (1970), and in 1994 won the Bancroft Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize. He was president of the Society of American Historians in 2002, and is on the board of the NAACP's magazine, The Crisis. He was named a Macarthur Fellow in 1999. — He is also the author of Prisoners of Honor: the Dreyfus Affair (1974), District of Columbia: A Bicentennial History (1976), The Race for Fashoda: European Colonization and African Resistance in the Scramble for Africa (1987), When Harlem Was in

Vogue (1981), and, with Deborah Willis, of A Small Nation of People: W.E.B. Du Bois & African American Portraits of Progress (2003). He edited The Harlem Renaissance Reader (1994). — He is married to a professor of public policy at NYT (Ruth Ann Stewart). He has three adult children from his first marriage.] [Critique. This book is a welcome corrective to the standard Eurocentric account of the Middle Ages. Lewis writes the dense prose of a mandarin historian, with magisterial periods and ornate formulations, but James Reston Jr. was overly harsh when he spoke of "stilted academic prose" in his review in the Washington Post. However, God's Crucible, Lewis's first foray into premodern history, leaves something to be desired. The notes for this extraordinarily far-ranging work show that supporting documentation (largely secondary sources; journal articles are rare) is thin. Footnotes sometimes do not correspond to the text. — More disturbingly, Lewis often chooses an interpretation that hews to a predetermined narrative and does not deeply scrutinize the historical record or interpretative debates among historians. Lewis is, in fact, a traditionalist historian, not a 'mythistorian' at all, pace the title of Ch. 7. Though he decenters the narrative, he does not allow postmodernist indeterminacy to trouble the confident progress of his history, which depends on traditional political history and is intent on inventing a new myth, one that instructs Westerners about their indebtedness to Muslim civilization and about the ruthlessly blood-soaked origins of Christian Europe. A brutal, uncouth Charlemagne contrasts

with an enlightened, suave 'Abd alRahman I. — Many reviewers have concluded that Lewis "overstates his case," as Ed Voves said in the California Literary Review, and it's true. Unpleasant traits of Frankish leaders are unrelentingly emphasized, those of Muslim leaders are universally softened or excused (e.g. "Crucifixions and expulsions were regrettable aspects of [al-Hakam's] nation-building. Enlightened despotism was the alternative to rule by the consensus of classes or rule by the oligarchy of affluent familes . . ." [311]). — Lewis has also produced a text bereft of historical consciousness to an extent that seems deliberate. His narrative is replete with anachronistic attributions of mental states and motivations. Lewis imagines premodern leaders were preoccupied with "grand strategy" (253, another anachronism). Lewis also has a taste for anachronistic metaphors as well —"speed bump," "conveyer belt," etc. All these devices are designed to reach the contemporary reader. — In short, Lewis is very much on a mission, and while it may be a laudable one, his methods do not always stand up to scrutiny. The book has, unsurprisingly, been skewered by critics on the right like "Fjordman," the anonymous but influential Norwegian Islamaphobe, who devoted a long critique to the book when it came out in mid-2008. Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times was also hard on the book, complaining that Lewis is "in thrall to an idealized Umayyad Spain." But Kwame Anthony Appiah gave the book a more favorable review in the New York Review of Books, calling it "rich and engaging" with an "uplifting message."]