Robert Irwin’s history of Orientalism leads from Ancient Greece to the present. He shows that, whether making philological comparisons between Arabic and Hebrew, cataloguing the coins of Fatimid Egypt or establishing the basic chronology of Harun al-Rashid’s military campaigns against Byzantium, scholars have been unified not by politics or ideology but by their shared obsession. For Lust of Knowing is an extraordinary, passionate book, both a sustained argument and a brilliant work of original scholarship.
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