Peter Partner’s books include Arab Voices and The Pope’s Men: The Papal Service in the Renaissance. His new book, God of Battles: Holy Wars of Christianity and Islam, has been published in the United Kingdom. (February 1998)

The Dangers of Divinity

Oleg Grabar brings more to the task of describing early Islamic Jerusalem than scholarship. A much-respected historian of Islamic architecture, he also has immense knowledge of the complex and mostly unhappy history of the city, and of how the three faiths that believe the city is holy have made and …

The Rebirth of Beirut

Beirut was never one of the great Arab cities; as a historic center it could never have competed even with such a city as Aleppo, still less with Damascus and Cairo. But for almost thirty years after the end of the Second World War, which was also the first period …

In Saddam’s Arms

Saddam Hussein is now, so long as he holds power, the insecure dictator of a crippled and only partly industrialized third world nation of seventeen million souls. Hitler and Stalin, the rulers of great, powerful nations, may once have served as his models, but they can no longer do so.

In a Fratricidal Country

Three years ago Charles Glass decided to take time off from his work as an ABC television reporter in Beirut to make and record a trip through the countries of the eastern Mediterranean. His itinerary began in Alexandretta in southern Turkey, and was to have taken him through Syria, Lebanon, …

Lost Worlds

All three books under review, though each in a quite different way, are concerned with man’s loss of a religious attitude toward his environment. They seem to imply that the end of the old cosmologies and the weakening of the old religions have deprived us of the power to situate …

Marianne into Battle

Marina Warner has written an interesting but discursive book, which shows the great difficulty she had in imposing order on its enormous subject matter. The guiding idea of the book is the use of female figures to stand for other things. Warner’s point of departure is the Statue of Liberty, …

On the Town

Mark Girouard has written a book of great vitality about the way people have lived in Western or Western-type cities from the Dark Ages to the twentieth century, and about what those cities have been like. Unlike most historians of “urbanism,” who tend to organize their work around a theory …

The Roman Spring of Clement VII

From the fall of Babylon onward, the catastrophes of great cities—Rome of the Caesars, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Hiroshima—have been signs and wonders. The Sack of Rome in 1527 by the undisciplined troops of the emperor Charles V symbolized, like the other wondrous disasters, the defeat of one way of life and …

Death of Venice

John Norwich’s book is a competent and readable account of the Venetian Republic from its hazy beginnings in the Dark Ages to its fall at the hands of Napoleon, whom Norwich seems unable to forgive. Narrative history of this sort has never been easy to write well. It is also …

Born Again?

Richard Krautheimer’s book on medieval Rome owes much to his lectures at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York. Less obviously, the book has been influenced by a great scholarly enterprise in which, with a few others, Krautheimer has been engaged for half a century: the Corpus of the …