Mary Laven has established herself as a competent historian, writing on a variety of aspects centred on the Venetian Renaissance. The present book is the first contribution to take her out of Europe, at least in geographical terms.
Until about 15 years ago the complex history of the links between the north of Ireland and colonial America was something of a brackish backwater in 18th-century Atlantic studies. Admittedly, the internal history of Ulster Presbyterianism had already come alive, thanks to the work of David Hayton on the early 18th century, and of David Miller and Ian McBride on the final decades.
The main aim of this book is to answer the following question: how does one account for the speed with which the Arab empire was built? The period covered extends from the rise of Islam down to the middle of the eighth century.
Why would a hardened band of foreign jihādi warriors agree to work for a self-proclaimed leader of the Christian world – especially one militantly opposed to Islam, who kept his own Muslim citizens under close surveillance? And why would such a ruler choose to keep that particular type of professional killer in his personal employ?
Russia’s tsars ruled over more Muslims than any other empire in the world.
For many of us, the ongoing carnage in Syria is a self-evident humanitarian crisis. We do not need to be convinced that the children drowning at sea, the women and men, young and old, begging for entry into any country that will accept them are worthy of our help.