Can one be nostalgic for a time they didn't live in? Well I am. As a Muslim who was educated in a traditional Western (in my case Catholic) highschool I learned nothing about the Muslim influence on Western education and European culture.
We tend to associate Europe as merely Christian but Violet Moeller goes to show us there was a rich Jewish and Muslim tradition especially in the Mediterranean countries. Of course she doesn't sugar coat things and pretend like the Muslims were benevolent rulers always, but she does fill in gaps and give credit.
Each chapter chronologically explores a separate city on the Mediterranean which makes the book go by fast and keeps yours interest the whole time. I'll admit though, once we got into predominantly Christian Europe (Venice in particular) I lost interest. The average person probably won't though.
I highly recommend this for amateur and advanced history lovers!
This book was so reminiscent of Grimm's Fairy Tales or even Hans Christian Anderson except set in Russia rather than Western Europe. The Bear and the Nightingale sucks you in from the first chapter into a dark world set in the Russian wilderness where civilization ends and magic begins. Although it may be dark, this was a beautifully written book that I recommend to anyone who enjoyed reading fairy tales as a kid.