MESA Book Awards
2019 Albert Hourani Book Award Honorable Mention
Jack Tannous's The Making of the Medieval Middle East is a tour de force of impeccable scholarship. Drawing on scores of Syriac, Arabic, and Greek sources, Tannous first describes the late antique world into which Islam was born, sketching the lives of the countless Christian "Simple Believers," who were deeply devout but not theologically schooled. He then describes how these people--who remained the majority of the population of the Levant for more than a century after the arrival of Islam--were able to manage their relations with the new rulers from Arabia and their new religious doctrines, often in ways that involved more cooperation and co-existence than conflict. Copiously documented, it is written in a clear and engaging prose that makes it a pleasure to read. This is a landmark contribution to the literature on the end of antiquity and the beginnings of Islam.