The best books telling the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God
By Steven Nightingale

The Books I Picked & Why

The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture

By Jerrilynn D. Dodds, María Rosa Menocal, Abigail Krasner Balbale

The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture

Why this book?

These three women give us Al-Andalus in depth. They are scholars of prodigious learning. This book shows their gift for clear explanation and offers a rich selection of color illustrations that are not collected so cogently together in any other books about the period. It is a major achievement and a joy to read; indispensable for anyone who wants to understand the history of Spain.


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The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

By Paul Preston

The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain

Why this book?

The whole of Spanish history is contentious, with hardly a fact not subject to challenge or attack. But slowly, clarity and understanding have come forth, and finally, in this volume, the extraordinary scholar Paul Preston gives us the facts about the campaigns of extermination in the Spanish Civil War. Anyone who wants a solid, grounded, informed understanding of this miserable time of slaughter needs this book. Painful reading, and all the more necessary for that.


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The Legacy of Muslim Spain Volume 1

By Salma Khadra Jayyusi

The Legacy of Muslim Spain Volume 1

Why this book?

Incomparable. In the long effort by scholars to establish the facts about the brilliant period of Al-Andalus—711-1492—this book is a breakthrough and a marvel. Salma Khadra Jayyusi assembled the leading scholars in the field on a whole host of subjects, and the two volumes have everything from meditations on broad historical themes to detailed accounts of book-making, ceramics, and techniques of dyeing and weaving silk. No serious reader of the history of Spain should have to live without these two extraordinary volumes.


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God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

By David Levering Lewis

God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

Why this book?

The perfect book, beautifully written, for anyone who wants to understand Spain and Al-Andalus in the context of medieval European history. Most of us are taught the history of Medieval Europe to the strange exclusion of the brilliant culture of Al-Andalus, but it remains the case that the whole history of Europe cannot be understood without knowing the contributions of the convivencia across a very wide spectrum of subjects—commerce, mathematics, agriculture, philosophy, and medicine, to name a few. 


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The Spanish Inquisition, by Joseph Perez

By Janet Lloyd, Joseph Pérez

The Spanish Inquisition, by Joseph Perez

Why this book?

It is always good to have a close, thoughtful comprehensive examination of a mythical institution. This book corrects some of the legends and does us the important service of showing how the Inquisition was not merely dark and atrocious. With its violent and administrative mix of ideology and politics, it provided to the world a model for evil, and its influence is evident throughout subsequent history, from the show trials of Stalinist Russia to various totalitarian movements worldwide.


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