The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found

Doubleday. May 2019. 336p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385541763. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385541770. HIST
Arabic transmission was key to preserving Greek and Roman thought for the millennium that separated the fall of the Western Roman Empire (500 CE) and the Renaissance in Europe. Additionally, argues historian Moller (Oxford in Quotations), this massive and singularly important contribution to the development of science and learning was, and still is, ignored by the very beneficiaries of so much effort. For simplicity's sake, the author traces three exemplar Greek works: Euclid's Elements, Ptolemy's Almagest, and the medical corpus of Galen, as well as the development of key cities where these works were preserved across time. While the present neglect of Arabic contributions by academics might be overstated, this work does shine a light on what many readers still regard as the "dark ages" and corrects the dubious (and too widespread) notion that non-Europeans have not contributed significantly to world progress. Overall, this fascinating and accessible work of scholarship highlights a number of major figures who deserve the same attention as those whose ideas they preserved and expanded.
VERDICT This will be enjoyed by readers of the history of science and medieval studies, with some crossover appeal to classicists. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/18.]
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