The Cross and the Crescent is a succinct, vivid and highly praised account of relations between Christians and Muslims - the 'peoples of the book' - from the emergence of Islam after the death of Muhammad in AD 632 to the European reformation.
Links formed through conquest, displomacy, pilgrimage and trade brought peoples of both faiths into frequent contact - sharing inventions such as paper and the abacus, while merchants travelled throughout the Mediterranean selling textiles, furs, spices, incense, ivory and even slaves. Yet despite these fruitful interactions, Christians viewed Muslims as bloodthirsty pagans, and Islam looked on Christendom with scorn as a jumble of confused sects. As Richard Fletcher argues, it was this failure to understand each other that spurred them into frequent and bloody conflicts.
Fletcher provides a clear-sighted and illuminating description of the ways in which Islam and Christianity have coexisted and clashed since their earliest encounters - a story that has lasting implications for our own time.