Maria Rosa Menocal writes a gripping and colourful story of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) in a style that makes it difficult to put down this book. Meticulously researched it nevertheless reads like a good novel. It is not a dry history but a series of vignettes that illustrate the amazing diversity and extraordinary juxtapositions of life in Andalusia. Often ignored by medievalists, this history is one to which Europe owes a great debt. A culture of convivencia (living together) that produced immense progress in science, the arts, medicine, literature, and philosophy, as well as some of the most important writings from both Jewish and Muslim philosopher-mystics and led the way for the renaissance in Europe. It is full of nostalgia for a time past but for one that can still speak to a modern world in crisis.