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For centuries following the fall of Rome, Western Europe was backward and benighted, locked into the Dark Ages and barely able to tell the time of day. Arab culture, however, was thriving, and had become a powerhouse of intellectual exploration and discussion that dazzled the likes of British adventurer Adelard of Bath. The Arabs could measure the earth's circumference (a feat not matched in the West for eight hundred years); they discovered algebra; were adept at astronomy and navigation, developed the astrolabe, translated all the Greek scientific and philosophical texts including, importantly, those of Aristotle. Without them, and the knowledge that travelers like Adelard brought back to the West, Europe would have been a very different place over the last millennium. Jonathan Lyons restores credit to the Arab thinkers of the past in this riveting history of science - from its earliest and most thrilling days.
Author and journalist Jonathan Lyons has spent his professional and personal life exploring the shifting boundaries between East and West. After more than 20 years as an editor and foreign correspondent for Reuters, he is now a researcher at the Global Terrorism Research Centre and a PhD candidate in sociology of religion at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He lives in Washington DC. He has a BA with Honours in Russian and History from Wesleyan university and was a Fellow at Columbia University's Harriman Institute of Soviet Studies. He also studied at the Pushkin Institute of Russian language in Moscow.