Chase Robinson, Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years


The technique of using biography to make history accessible to newcomers is alive and well. Oneworld publishes the Makers of the Muslim World series, and Oxford University Press has The World in a Life. Textbooks often introduce chapters with an illustrative biography, such as the travelers in Valerie Hansen and Kenneth Curtis’s Voyages in World History. 1 The Islamic world also has its own tradition of ṭabaqāt and maʿājim biographical literature highlighting worthies of different fields and serving as reference material for hadith criticism. Referencing the latter tradition, but certainly in harmony with the former, Chase Robinson has used brief accounts of 30 prominent men and women to introduce readers to the first millennium of Islamic history.
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