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Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 12. November 2013


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Produktinformation

  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 634 Seiten
  • Verlag: Princeton Univers. Press (12. November 2013)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0691157731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691157733
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 4,4 x 16,5 x 24,1 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 8.972 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

Honorable Mention for the 2013 PROSE Award in European and World History, Association of American Publishers "Lost Enlightenment is a remarkable and accessible scholarly tour de force."--David Morgan, Times Literary Supplement "Starr argues rightly that the region's brilliant culture rested on a highly cosmopolitan mix of ethnic groups, languages and religions; a long, rich pre-Islamic intellectual tradition (mainly Buddhist); and prosperity... Starr shines in his core chapters, where he presents the great achievements of the Central Asian philosopher-scientists at a time when their homeland was the creative intellectual capital of the world."--Nature "Starr is that rare scholar with the horsepower to write about the medieval culture of this vast region that is bounded by Persia to the west, and China to the east, and India to the southeast... An indispensable title for scholars, this lively study should prove equally compelling to serious lay readers with an interest in Arabic and medieval thought."--Library Journal, starred review "In this graceful, luxuriant history, Starr recovers the stunning contributions of Central Asia scientists, architects, artists, engineers, and historians during the four centuries that began just before the Arab onslaught of the eight century and lasted until the Mongol siege in the thirteenth century... The book offers a lucid exploration of the era's intricate philosophical and theological debates and a succinct depiction of its poetry and art, enhanced by many illustrations."--Foreign Affairs "Lost Enlightenment is a most amazing book, one with--if we are lucky--the potential to shape global public thinking for decades ahead... Lost Enlightenment is an entirely readable, informative and even entertaining book. Although it might surely serve as an inspiration to the modern inhabitants of Central Asia, it should also serve as a warning to any modern nation and civilization that it is tempted to intolerance."--Dimitry Chen, Asian Review of Books "Starr undertakes a daunting task--the intellectual history of Central Asia through the medieval period. Happily, he succeeds... Starr's book is thorough and well researched, and includes ample supplemental material and sources, so that even novice students will find it instructive and useful without being overwhelming."--Choice "This favorable account of Central Asia's intellectual life will enhance any reader's perception of Central Asia and challenge further investigation."--Isenbike Togan, Bogazici Journal "This book does a marvelous job of highlighting the contributions of medieval intellectuals from Central Asia to the history of world civilizations... It is a very informative and readable book."--Richard Foltz, Fezana Journal "In the book Lost Enlightenment, historian S. Frederick Starr chronicles the long tradition of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and literary intellectuals that flourished in the Iranian- and Turkish-speaking regions of Central Asia."--Noah Smith, Bloomberg View "This book is a must-read for those wanting to understand the development of this vast region of the world and the cultural and religious tides that gave rise to the conflicts we face today."--Carl G. Schuster, Explorers Journal

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

S. Frederick Starr is founding chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a research and policy center affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm. A past president of Oberlin College and the Aspen Institute, he began his career in classical archaeology, excavating at Gordium in modern Turkey and mapping the Persian Royal Road.

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Sceptique500 am 22. Januar 2014
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Sheherazade narrated interesting tales for thousand and one nights. More modest, the author has spread his narrative skills over about half the number of pages, without loss in quality. It is rare that one would begin a review on a non-fiction book by praising the style and the author's expository skills. This work deserves such singular mention. Reading it cover to cover was a delight, attention never flagging, curiosity being subtly redirected to the next intellectual or political issue in order to avoid overstay.

One of the author's strength is his ability to summarize the positions of the different scholars clearly, and in a few pages. His treatment of Biruni's India is a model for anyone dealing with intellectual history.

The topic helps, of course. Central Asia's role in reworking and syncretizing ancient regional cultures is presented here in its magnificent detail: Central Asia not as a place of passage (akin to the sterile place de la Concorde in Paris), but a square (Brussels' Grande Place?) where cultures met, conversed, blended, and where novel synergies emerged. The metaphor would be of Central Asia as a sort of "heart" - pulling in and pushing out intellectual and spiritual forces over decades and centuries.

The region was able take on its role thanks to a concurrence of reasons: ecology (the oasis as center of agricultural production), geography (the crossing of the trade routes), economic (a proper balance between trade and local production and technical skills), technological (the underground irrigation system demanding a high degree of imagination), and social and cultural (a discerning mentality from trade and assimilation of production).
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Das Buch ist eine meisterliche Gesamtdarstellung der weltumspannenden Zivilisation und Kultur der Blütezeit Zentralasiens, die sich auszeichnete durch eine grosse Diversität von Ethnien und Religionen, regen internationalen Handel, überragende Fortschritte in allen Wissenschaftszweigen und eine kaum wieder dagewesene Strahlwirkung in die gesamte damals bekannte Welt hinein. Es war sozusagen eine Phase gelungener Globalisierung avant la lettre. Wir nehmen davon gemeinhin nur bruchstückhaft Kenntnis (ja ja Avicenna und al-Farabi), sehen das Zentrum fälschlich in Baghdad (wohl ein bisschen wegen 1001 Nacht) und nach dem Mongoleneinfall war ja sowieso alles vorbei.

Starr deckt auf, dass nicht das Zweistromland, sondern Zentralasien mit den intensiven Handelsverbindungen nach China, Indien, Nahost bis Westeuropa das eigentliche "Nervenzentrum" dieser Hochphase war, dessen Weltaufgeschlossenheit und Toleranz nicht nur Wirtschaft und Frieden beförderte, sondern auch Künste und Wissenschaften. Angehörige von Islam, nestorianischem Christentum, Judentum, Zarathustraritus, Buddhismus und Schamanismus wirkten während dieser Blütezeit einträchtig zusammen. Für diese Phase stellt Starr verblüffende Lateralbezüge zu anderen Regionen und Geschichtsepochen her.

Dass es nach den Metzeleien von Dschingis Khan nicht mehr zu einer wirklichen Renaissance kam, schreibt Starr der, wie er nachzuweisen versucht, keineswegs zwangsläufigen, sondern eher kontingenten Durchsetzung orthodox-traditionalistischer Strömungen im Islam zu (Denker wie al-Ghazali, Verbreitung des Sufismus).

Die Botschaft für heute ist klar. Wir müssten schauen, dass wir die Globalisierung retten trotz big data, NSA.
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Amazon.com: 20 Rezensionen
30 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A must-read for anyone interested in the history of societies and ideas 21. November 2013
Von E. Gerba - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
If you are interested in the many shapes history takes: that of societies, individuals, religion, science, philosophy, etc - this is a must read. It is a book that covers a wealth of material from a period and region that many (most?) modern readers in the West are unfamiliar with. It demonstrates in a very compelling way the important role Central Asian, Iranian, and Arabic thinkers of the Middle Ages played in both preserving & transmitting the intellectual heritage of the Hellenic civilization, and in developing & enriching these ideas, so that they could become the foundation for the European Renaissance. That Mr Starr does all this in a very engaging way makes this book an even more impressive achievement.

If I am to find fault with Mr Starr's work it is that while he eloquently praises al-Biruni for his objective and dispassionate treatment of the Indian culture, Mr Starr himself on a few occasions comes across as a bit of Central Asian cheerleader. However, taking into account how that region is viewed by the public today and the very limited awareness of its rich history, this minor fault is forgivable and it does not get in the way of the narrative.

It is probably worth mentioning that this work is sure to annoy some proponents of Iran and the various Arabic states because, on the one hand, it makes a distinction between the various Persian/persianate peoples and the Iranian state, and on the other hand between those who wrote in Arabic and Arabs. Lest that keeps you from reading this book, I would say that Mr Starr makes a distinction between these that is akin to the distinction between germanic peoples and Germany, or thinkers who wrote in Latin and Romans. Ultimately, while no historical writing is ever entirely objective, as an impartial reader I do not feel he diminishes either.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fivehundred thirty eight and one delight 9. Januar 2014
Von Sceptique500 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Scheherazade narrated interesting tales for thousand and one nights. More modest, the author has spread his narrative skills over about half the number of pages, without loss in quality. It is rare that one would begin a review on a non-fiction book by praising the style and the author's expository skills. This work deserves such singular mention. Reading it cover to cover was a delight, attention never flagging, curiosity being subtly redirected to the next intellectual or political issue in order to avoid overstay.

One of the author's strength is his ability to summarize the positions of the different scholars clearly, and in a few pages. His treatment of Biruni's India is a model for anyone dealing with intellectual history.

The topic helps, of course. Central Asia's role in reworking and syncretizing ancient regional cultures is presented here in its magnificent detail: Central Asia not as a place of passage (akin to the sterile place de la Concorde in Paris), but a square (Brussels' Grande Place?) where cultures met, conversed, blended, and where novel synergies emerged. The metaphor would be of Central Asia as a sort of "heart" - pulling in and pushing out intellectual and spiritual forces over decades and centuries.

The region was able take on its role thanks to a concurrence of reasons: ecology (the oasis as center of agricultural production), geography (the crossing of the trade routes), economic (a proper balance between trade and local production and technical skills), technological (the underground irrigation system demanding a high degree of imagination), and social and cultural (a discerning mentality from trade and assimilation of production). Time and again the region was devastated, and time and again it pulled itself up - a homeostatic system with a strong capacity for self-repair.

Syncretism allowed a renewed analysis of scientific and philosophical questions that had remained dormant since the Greek Enlightenment. The border between philosophy and theology was explored, defining their respective contents as the study progressed. Great minds emerged, and argued. Where these two disciplines separate, or was there a ranking, and if so, which was to lead, which one was to adapt? The matter was never resolved. Meanwhile it all came to naught, and Central Asia somehow disappeared from the map, only to be discovered by intellectual archeologists in the last few decades.

Why so? The author puts much of the blame on emergent Islamic fundamentalism, which found its strident voice in Ghazali. He is certainly right in this. A culture of conformity dampens curiosity by creating negative stereotypes. The threat of death (for committing apostasy by questioning the Koran) was potent inhibitor (we've seen this kind of threaat with Giordano Bruno and Galileo).

On page 429 the author also conjectures a reduced supply of "rising geniuses." May be the author is right. My hunch is somewhat different (albeit not incompatible). The wisdom of a scientist lies in asking questions for which he can find an answer. At the end of the period, all questions that could have been answered with the technologies of the day had been resolved. The niche had been explored. Latecomers were condemned to be epigones.

Reading Biruni's achievement in astronomy one realizes that given extant observational capacities, he had come to the end of the line. There simply were no "adjacent possibles" at hand, or the combination of conceptual framework and tools needed for further advance. Kashi's later work in Samarkand was solid, but broke new ground. Nor could it have done so. One had to await the invention of the telescope to move beyond what the naked eye could see, and settle open questions or discover new ones. The question is, of course, why Central Asia did not invent the telescope - it had all the components. My guess: practice precedes science. In Europe it probably had practical use at sea (in Holland) before it was adapted for astronomy.

Another area where I may part (gently) with the author's conclusions is in the role of the Islamic religion. Rome was a republic well before it became an empire, and the state structure in China goes back to Lord Shang, well before the Yellow Emperor. They expanded from a core, never deserting it, like Islam did. The tragedy of Islam may have been to have succeeded too fast, never having had the time to create proper state structures. The Arab term for bureaucracy is diwan - originally simply the roster of the army. This is little to go on, when building a state. So the mighty ship of the Arab empire may have slipped into the water and drifted out to sea without proper instruments to steer it. Islam was jury-rigged device: it prevented the ship from foundering, but no more. Take away religion tomorrow, and still the ship of state would be rudderless.

To conclude: A "classic" is a text that raises more follow-up questions that it settles issues. This book has the potential of becoming a highly readable classic, rather than a door stopper or coffee-table book one skims, but then leaves unread. One small regret: reading The Waning of the Middle Ages I was struck by this sentence: "A scientific historian, relying first and foremost on official documents, which rarely refer to he passions, except violence and cupidity, occasionally runs the risk of neglecting the differences in tone between the life then and now." The Middle Ages were passionate, vibrant,and colorful to a degree we can hardly imagine. I suspect that this was the case in Central Asia as well. The Sufi movement is witness. The book, however, reads like marble from Greek statues, fro which age has removed the garish colors.

A final comment: This book belongs to what I have dubbed tongue-in cheek the "new historiography" school, where readability trumps structure, and plates trump maps. I'm not sure that it is utter progress.

A few minor problems now. One of the frustrations while plowing through the text was the abysmal dearth of maps. For each period and center of power, one would have liked the corresponding map. There is only one map, incomplete, at the beginning - just about useless. It also contains errors (Shakhrisabz in the text is without k). I understand that including maps may be expensive, but I suspect that publishing houses have expanded on the age-old rule: "each mathematical formula in the text halves the readership" to include maps. The author has adapted to this ukase: he foregoes geography: Khwarazm is introduced at pg. 44 without any comment, as if its location and import was self-evident.

Structure, it would seem nowadays, is counterproductive. At times the text sounds like GPS instructions: "prepare to turn to Ibn Sina;" the author chimes cheerfully, and then: "turn now." Summary inserts, maps, and timelines in each chapter would have been more useful than the global "Chronology" of dates of births and deaths at the beginning (Biruni never gets to be born there, BTW), a list that also includes assorted events outside the region (what's the purpose of mentioning the Norman invasion of England?).

One is in awe of the wealth of footnotes and references, which testify to language skills beyond anyone's dream. Given the subject, however, a decent bibliography is a must (may be subdivided by language, or type of source). On pg. 546, footnote 52 there is the startling assertion: "A history of the trade routes from Central Asia to India has yet to be written". I was unable to verify whether the author had missed LIU Xinru (The Silk Road in World History (The New Oxford World History) ), who has done a splendid job there.

A minor quibble - the Pantheon is not a "double dome," and the link back from Central Asia to Brunelleschi's dome in Florence may be quite tenuous...
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An absolute must read 29. Dezember 2013
Von Srinivas Peri - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This is a must read for any one who wants to understand history of Central Asia. An absolutely scholarly work with truly deep insights on what caused the flowering of sciences and knowledge for about a millennium and then how it was lost for in Central Asia. The important view the author takes is the fact that the region was at the cross roads of other major civilizations and you had to pass through what he calls as cross road civilization. This enabled great exchange of ideas along with the ever existing trade patterns. It was an era where tolerance and understanding along with acceptance of all faiths was common. His analysis of orthodox, dogmatic and rigid religious interpretation and intolerance along with tirades against reasoning as against scriptural truths that began in 11th century is excellent, specifically with the cases of Ghazali and Hanbal. I always wondered what made different parts of the Islamic world follow different schools of Jurisprudence? The authors thesis about why Central Asia went the Hanafi way and not Hanbali way probably explains a lot for other parts of the world too. In sum and excellent work.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A slog, but required 16. Februar 2014
Von J. A. Haverstick - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm just affirming the other reviews. This book took a while to get through and I read several others while reading it 'cause it got sort of daunting. However it was one of the most eye-opening books I've read in a while. There will be few readers, I think, who will not learn a lot of new things, historically, religiously, geographically and philosophically. Actually, would yopu be surprised to learn the capitol dome was modeled after the dome of a mosque? Uh-oh.

I was vaguely aware of many of the advances in astronomy, geopgraphy and math among the Arabs. And the philosophy I had learned about long ago. Except, it wasn't exactly the "Arabs." Arabic was the learned language, think Latin and Greek, but the ethnicities were mainly Persian and Turkic types. One great take-away was a much deeper understanding of the mix of peoples then and now in all those Beky-bekylands as one learned Republican put it recently. Another was a knowledge of the history of the developments of the splits and schisms in Islam which were born, really, during the period covered in this book.

I DO think, however, that the author, perhaps with some help from the publisher or an editor could have presented the material in a way that hung together in a more coherent manner. (This is especially important because of the unfamiliarty of the proper nouns and the resulting difficulty of keeping them all straight page after page.) Avicenna, for instance, appears throughout, you pick up a little here and a little there as you go through, but you're not going to able an exam question on him from this book. Also - I did once study a little medieval "Arabic" philosophy, I don't think the thinkers in general are treated in a way that one gets a very good knowledge of their "systems". More specifically, I found myself constantly paging back to the - sometimes- inadequate map at the very beginning of the book to orient myself to the text. One improvement might be to provide more and more specific maps throughout as the topic requires. Otherwise, I found the numerous b and w illustrations and section of color plates very helpful and informative. But it's more of a cultural and chronological endeavor, the author might reply. Anyhow, I'd strongly recommend it to anyone looking for an overlooked time and place to learn about.
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Great read on an unusual subject 17. April 2014
Von Charles Oltorf - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I am not an expert on central Asia or on Islam. Therefore my review will be short and to the point. Most books on the history of this area that I have encountered in the past have focused entirely or almost entirely on the political history of this area. Perhaps the best of the books which I have read previously was "The Empire of the Steppes," by Rene Groussset. Such books as these are necessary because without a sense of the political order, or lack thereof, it is difficult to have any appreciation of the culture of these ancient peoples. On the other hand, a history confined to wars, kings, and khans deprives the reader of the value of reading history in the first place, which is to gain an understanding of the past in its totality. With this in mind, I believe that "Lost Enlightenment" fills an important gap in the histories of central Asia and Iran. It is an intellectual history of the centuries immediately following the Arab conquest. It is well written and therefore a pleasure to read. The author convincingly makes his point that this era was indeed a flowering of culture. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any interest at all in this part of the world.
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