Iberian Saga -- book recommendation

To any that are running a saga set in Iberia, I'd like to recommend a book that I'm reading regarding the Muslim Culture of Al-Andalus:

"The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians created a culture of tolerance in Medieval Spain," by Maria Rosa Menocal (Yale University)

The book begins with a brief history of the origin of the Muslim faith and politics, then moves into the Caliphate of Cordoba, and how it was the cultural and scientific center of much of the known world. The chapters move in periods of about 50 years, from 750 - 1364. Most chapters center on a specific person from that time, and use that person to illustrate the cultural experience of the time.

It is extremely well-written, in a story-telling format, and quite pleasurable... almost like fiction.

I have done quite a bit in my campaign to set up the cultural differences between Christian Europe and Muslim Spain, and this book is adding to the backdrop quite a bit. I've got a few NPCs who were able to tell a bit of history to the players by mourning the past glory of (by medieval standards) relatively-secular Cordoba, now that the fundamentalist Almohads have moved in. The book is also great for noting little details on local economies: The locations of major paper and silk production, for example. There's also some detail on Iberian Arabic Poetry (that Criamon Magi are so interested in). These are but a few examples of things I've gleaned from the book that have affected my saga.

Finally, it's a very interesting read in regards to today's current events....

Have a good day,

I love this book. An excellent resource!