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The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise

Muslims, Christians, and Jews Under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain
Narrated by: Bob Souer
Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
3 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Scholars, journalists, and politicians uphold Muslim-ruled medieval Spain - "al-Andalus" - as a multicultural paradise, a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony.

There is only one problem with this widely accepted account: It is a myth.

In this groundbreaking book, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera tells the full story of Islamic Spain. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise shines light on hidden features of this medieval culture by drawing on an abundance of primary sources that scholars have ignored, as well as archaeological evidence only recently unearthed.

As professors, politicians, and pundits continue to celebrate Islamic Spain for its "multiculturalism" and "diversity", Fernández-Morera sets the record straight - showing that a politically useful myth is a myth nonetheless.

©2016 Darío Fernández-Morera (P)2016 Tantor

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Muslim Spain was not a nice place

This scholarly work vividly exposes the lie that Muslim Spain was a haven of tolerance and high Muslim culture. It's a must read for all who want to understand the richness of Visigoth Spain and how it was overshadowed and subsumed by heartless invaders whose fanatical religious iconoclastic zeal cast a shadow and stain on Europe that must be seen for what it was and not romanticized by modern politically correct revisionists.

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Biased and subjective

I thought I was getting a deep historical observation on Muslim Spain, but instead I got a biased reading of someone who obviously holds disdain for Muslims and is just trying to discredit the rule of the Ummayad Caliphate.

Don't read this if you're expecting a non biased historical commentary based on facts, this is based on the authors selected historical information that tries to discredit and doesn't give anything meaningful to the reader. Only thing I enjoyed was the amazinglz mature voice of the narrator, but it's not enough to recommend whatsoever.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Victor Y'Barbo
  • 18-03-2019

Historian(MA student) Approved

I had purchased this book a good while before I started listening to it and a physical copy even before that. It wasn’t until after a professor in one of my graduate classes on the British Empire in India asked the class about the “reconquest” of Spain while we were discussing the “western bias” in history that I started listening to it. Even after I answered him by saying we call it a reconquest because the Spaniards did reconquer Spain and Portugal after being invaded by the Moors he dismissed my answer by implying that the Spaniards had no more right to Spain then the Moors did. That what the Spanish did was not a reconquest but a conquest plain and simple. That trying to add the justification of the Spanish retaking their homeland was little more then a invention of western history to make the White Christians the heroes and the Brown Muslims the villains. I never for a second believed a word of what my professor was trying to convince me of, and I only wish I had read this book sooner so as to have been better equipped to fully rebut his egregious claims.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-11-2016

Courageous book

The reader was superlative. And I've heard a lot if audio books. And the book is an act of intellectual courage.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicholas
  • 14-11-2016

Authoritative

Absolutely dripping with concrete, reliable and unapologetic facts that shed needed attention to Islamic Spain. Dario gives no quarters as he unveils the numerous a-historic "scholar's" views and statements around the topic going from the 8-15th century that either mislead or deliberately lie on behalf of the Muslim rulers or shame the Christian victims.

So refreshing to not be force feed lies! Recommend highly!

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • LadyLindi
  • 29-05-2017

Too Little Content and a Bit Polemic

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not really. It's not that the book didn't have some useful content - it's just that it could have been said in 25-50 pages. The books was also too polemic for my comfort - I do actually agree with his view of Andalusia (for the same reasons, most of which I already knew) but I am distrustful of books out to prove a premise, even if the premise is correct. I understand he was writing to show why current academia is wrong on this, but I still prefer a truth seeking book, not an "I'm going to prove you wrong" presentation. Although I wouldn't call this an anti-Muslim book, it will be interpreted as such because of the way it is written, since we are in a time and culture where consigning everything Islamic to hell on earth is common.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Dre Gonsales
  • 03-08-2017

Fantastic read!

This book is an extremely well written, well cited, and informative look at an often misrepresented chapter of history.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 31-07-2016

I should have known better all along.

I have been a casual student of Greek, Roman and Islamic history for a long time and nothing documented here was a surprise to me. What was surprising is I never bothered to deliberately connect the obvious dots for the relevant picture of Spain! For example, I was aware Spain at the time of the conquest was ruled by Visigothic aristocracy of several centuries duration. I also knew Arab and Berber forces displaced them.

What I failed to appreciate was the Arabs and Berbers were several orders of magnitude lower on the barbarian scrotum pole then the aristocracy they replaced. If not for the reconquest Spain today would be culturally North African. Think Algeria.

PS: I seldom buy a book rated below 4.4 and in this case consulted Goodreads because so few ratings have been made so far. Goodreads generally runs about one half point lower then Audible and this book had 4.4 That is one of the highest ratings I have ever seen there.

33 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • Z
  • 25-09-2016

Great book!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It tells the truth of the myth that was Córdoba. The author uses actual sources from Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars and eyewitness accounts.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Sunshine Reader
  • 02-01-2018

Repetitive

This reads more like a text book. The subject is well researched, but the other repeats the same points throughout the book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Walker
  • 29-09-2016

Smashes myths

Even freedom lovers have been fooled that there was freedom in Spain that the inquisitor Reonquistas ruined. Their heirs razed American civilizations and stole their wealth. Now we know that if they had a model for conquest, rule and run, it was Islam. That alone created the dark ages, more barbaric and totalitarian than the barbarians. Who were the Visigoths? You will know when you finish and what happened to them including the persecutions. There was little freedom, no women's liberation, but there was plenty of slavery.


14 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-06-2017

Excellent book of the true story of Spain under The Muslims.

This book turned out to be excellent and I became more excited about it as it went on. At first the scholarly nature, and somewhat flat narration, of the book made it initially troublesome to follow. However, after persevering through the first chapter, I came to appreciate the author's depth of research and the tremendous amount of original sources, both Christian and Muslim, which the author referenced to prove the author's arguments. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been suspicious of the "history" portrayed as conventional wisdom in mainstream liberal, frequently anti-Christian, writings, which are read without question by most and accepted, from the time of elementary school on, as "the truth".

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Alex
  • 10-07-2017

A harrowing account of Islamic Spain

Andalus is often cited as an example of Islamic tolerance and enlightenment. The politically correct academics who make such statements tend to overlook Berber dynasties, if they are aware of these groups at all. This book provides a reconsideration of the earlier, relatively milder period as well. The possibility of being branded a racist for presenting inconvenient facts about a religion, or of loss of funding for Middle Eastern Studies departments (much of which comes from repressive Middle Eastern regimes), have often prevented a truly honest and balanced look at Islamic Spain.

Each chapter provides a thematic examination of a different subject, from Jihad to women's rights and the treatment of religious minorities. The parade of horrors is not for the faint of heart. We hear of the widespread use of infidel women as sex slaves, some girls as young as 11 years. Based on strong primary source evidence, the author argues that there is at least the strong possibility that female genital mutilation was practiced among the Muslims of Spain. Religious minorities were humiliated and taxed at higher rates, but at least they were allowed to exist initially.

Because the book argues against conventional wisdom, it can't make claims like "Islamic Spain was a beacon of tolerance" without backing them up. So for each claim, a lot of evidence and different examples are cited. This may be tiresome for some people. While an honest look at the evidence in this book would lead to most of the author's claims being accepted, it is most likely that the politically correct establishment will simply ignore it, because it goes against their narrative.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony M
  • 25-12-2016

An important book with relevance for now

Referencing a vast collection of Muslim, Christian and Jewish sources past and present the author clarifies Islam as an ideology of conquest whose ultimate expression in armed Jihad and goal quite literally world domination expressed explicitly in the Quran and numerous Hadith. Contrary to fashionable whimsical contemporary academic analysis the Muslim conquest of Spain.and its subsequent rule was brutal and uncompromising designed foremost to uphold the supremacy of Arab Muslims over its conquered subjects, prevent them "contaminating" Islam and extort from them protection money in the form of special taxes - all practices mandated by the Quran and upheld by Islam to this day.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 30-09-2016

An inconvenient truth

Full of information and enjoyable narrative. A must for those who have hunger for truth over fairy tales.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Ariel
  • 10-04-2017

Extremely informative


Excellent book

You cannot help but feeling that all the price lavished upon tolerant “Al-Andaluz” is ideologically motivated and something doesn’t seem right. Fernandez Morera’s book proves this point very clearly. It not only provides common sense arguments such as “If Gothic Spain ‘deserved’ to be conquered by a more modern and enlightened people, with didn’t Meso-America or India deserved to be conquered too?” or “If Christians had to be happy with their second class citizenship why blacks in Southern US didn’t have to be happy too?”; The book also provides actual evidence from primary sources showing that “Al-Andaluz” wasn’t either tolerant o enlightened.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrea Zuvich
  • 08-01-2017

Brilliant

Brilliant, engaging, and meticulously researched, this book ought to be required reading in high schools and for any adult who wishes to be more knowledgeable about the true Islamic impact on Spain.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jose F Miranda
  • 02-01-2017

Great history. Eye opening.

Excellent book by anyone interested in Spanish, European and medieval history. Reading a tad mechanical but clear. The history as it should be told, based on evidence.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Wexler
  • 27-05-2019

Pretty good historianship

The "Myth", as the author sees it, lies in the modern notion that convivencia, or Living together, was somehow a golden time of cooperation. While it was a period of living together, it was racist, religiously intolerant, brutal and coercive. So apologists will argue that this is in itself, anti-islamic, anti-christian or anti-jewish, while in fact, they were all pretty awful. It was an awful brutal time. While the Jews, for example, fared better under the Muslims than the Visigoths, they were still treated like disposable slaves...a better disposable slave, but still a slave.

Both muslims and christians were all too happy to oppress the other and both wish to be seen as victims. The Jews, who never held the upper hand, oppressed their own people, just as did the christians and muslims, each who was as willing to slaughter their own as the other.

Not a pretty picture of any of the participants, and certainly not an Andalusian "Paradise".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr S Deeley
  • 24-04-2019

enlightening read

Whether interested in history, religion, Spain or good old fashioned myth busting, you will enjoy this masterpiece of setting the record straight.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lrapsody
  • 13-08-2018

Exceptional scholarship utilises primary sources

Turns out the popularly held Andalusian tolerance is significantly exaggerated. Jews were mistreated, and Christians were castigated. Both were impoverished by the high jizzya tax, and at the bottom rings of society, with persecution becoming more or less severe depending upon the whims of whoever was leader of the caliphates at the time, Umayyad or such.

Just a glimpse of what may happen to western Europe soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle Huberman
  • 18-07-2019

Explodes the myth of the golden era....

This is a book that if it wasn’t in audio form, I would probably have never got past the first chapter. However.... hearing it narrated - it grips you and I have gained new knowledge and information on this important era - and there are many lessons that can be applied to today’s political arena.
I have always suspected that the so called ‘golden era’ probably was more of a dark period - and the author has unearthed records to back this up. As I listened to this book whilst driving - I found myself on breaks searching for more info on Visigoths - a group that had never previously been brought into my narrative on this era.
This book is a must listen - especially when we see seismic changes happening around us today in the West.