In this fascinating book, Jack Tannous sets out to write a new history of the transformation of the Middle East from multilingual and Christian to Arabic-speaking and Islamic. It is well known, at least among historians, that the transformation did not take place as an immediate consequence of the Muslim conquests but took several centuries to materialize. As Tannous points out, however, the corollary of that reality, namely that Christians remained the majority of the population during much of the Middle Ages, is often ignored by specialists of Islamic history, who write about the “religious minority” (i.e., Islam) as if they were the majority. His book investigates how this balance came to change over the centuries, and his central premise is that only by understanding the experience of that silent majority of “simple” Christians can we properly understand the choices they made and the changes they brought about.

Tannous advances...

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