This collection of essays focuses on the relation between European and Islamic thought and culture from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century. Albert Hourani explores the development of ideas about Islam in European thought and discusses the individual writers who played an important part in informing and communicating an image of Islamic history and civilisation. He also examines some of the reactions of the Islamic world to the powerful new ideas of European civilization including the first Arabic encyclopedia and translation of Homer.
'He has an understanding of both western and Arab-Muslim intellectual traditions unmatched in his generation. His writing is elegant and judicious, marked by a passionate concern to get as near to the truth as possible ... In these essays Hourani concentrates on how knowledge of Islam came to the West through the work of great orientalists such as Ignaz Goldziher, Hamilton Gibb, Louis Massignon, Jacques Berque and Marshall Hodgson ... Wise voices like Hourani's, uncontaminated by religiosity or lust for power, are especially needed at this time.' New Statesman and Society