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Lost Enlightenment


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Preface xiii Dramatis Personae xxi Chronology xxxi Chapter 1 The Center of the World 1 Chapter 2 Worldly Urbanists, Ancient Land 28 Chapter 3 A Cauldron of Skills, Ideas, and Faiths 62 Chapter 4 How Arabs Conquered Central Asia and Central Asia Then Set the Stage to Conquer Baghdad 101 Chapter 5 East Wind over Baghdad 126 Chapter 6 Wandering Scholars 156 Chapter 7 Khurasan: Central Asia's Rising Star 194 Chapter 8 A Flowering of Central Asia: The Samanid Dynasty 225 Chapter 9 A Moment in the Desert: Gurganj under the Mamuns 267 Chapter 10 Turks Take the Stage: Mahmud of Kashgar and Yusuf of Balasagun 303 Chapter 11 Culture under a Turkic Marauder: Mahmud's Ghazni 332 Chapter 12 Tremors under the Dome of Seljuk Rule 381 Chapter 13 The Mongol Century 436 Chapter 14 Tamerlane and His Successors 478 Chapter 15 Retrospective: The Sand and the Oyster 515 Notes 541 Index 611

About the Author

S. Frederick Starr is founding chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a research and policy center affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm. A past president of Oberlin College and the Aspen Institute, he began his career in classical archaeology, excavating at Gordium in modern Turkey and mapping the Persian Royal Road.


Honorable Mention for the 2013 PROSE Award in European and World History, Association of American Publishers One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014 "A fantastic book."--President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan "Lost Enlightenment is a remarkable and accessible scholarly tour de force."--David Morgan, Times Literary Supplement "Starr argues rightly that the region's brilliant culture rested on a highly cosmopolitan mix of ethnic groups, languages and religions; a long, rich pre-Islamic intellectual tradition (mainly Buddhist); and prosperity... Starr shines in his core chapters, where he presents the great achievements of the Central Asian philosopher-scientists at a time when their homeland was the creative intellectual capital of the world."--Nature "Starr is that rare scholar with the horsepower to write about the medieval culture of this vast region that is bounded by Persia to the west, and China to the east, and India to the southeast... An indispensable title for scholars, this lively study should prove equally compelling to serious lay readers with an interest in Arabic and medieval thought."--Library Journal, starred review "In this graceful, luxuriant history, Starr recovers the stunning contributions of Central Asia scientists, architects, artists, engineers, and historians during the four centuries that began just before the Arab onslaught of the eight century and lasted until the Mongol siege in the thirteenth century... The book offers a lucid exploration of the era's intricate philosophical and theological debates and a succinct depiction of its poetry and art, enhanced by many illustrations."--Foreign Affairs "Lost Enlightenment is a most amazing book, one with--if we are lucky--the potential to shape global public thinking for decades ahead... Lost Enlightenment is an entirely readable, informative and even entertaining book. Although it might surely serve as an inspiration to the modern inhabitants of Central Asia, it should also serve as a warning to any modern nation and civilization that it is tempted to intolerance."--Dimitry Chen, Asian Review of Books "Starr undertakes a daunting task--the intellectual history of Central Asia through the medieval period. Happily, he succeeds... Starr's book is thorough and well researched, and includes ample supplemental material and sources, so that even novice students will find it instructive and useful without being overwhelming."--Choice "This favorable account of Central Asia's intellectual life will enhance any reader's perception of Central Asia and challenge further investigation."--Isenbike Togan, Bogazici Journal "This book does a marvelous job of highlighting the contributions of medieval intellectuals from Central Asia to the history of world civilizations... It is a very informative and readable book."--Richard Foltz, Fezana Journal "In the book Lost Enlightenment, historian S. Frederick Starr chronicles the long tradition of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and literary intellectuals that flourished in the Iranian- and Turkish-speaking regions of Central Asia."--Noah Smith, Bloomberg View "This book is a must-read for those wanting to understand the development of this vast region of the world and the cultural and religious tides that gave rise to the conflicts we face today."--Carl G. Schuster, Explorers Journal

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