The Fatimid Empire
By Michael Brett.
2017, Edinburgh UP, 978-0-74864-0-775, £90.00 hb.
Reviewed by Tom Verde on September 9, 2020
For nearly three centuries from 910–1171 CE, Fatimid power stretched from the Atlantic coast of North Africa to the shores of India, with governors and client kings ruling various cities and fortified provinces. This comprehensive volume, part of The Edinburgh History of the Islamic Empires series, is a close examination of an era that
was critical in the evolutionary development of the Muslim community “from a conquering army into a civilian population,” writes Brett. He studies the dynasty from
its inception as “a means to displace … [its] ‘Abbasid rivals as the legitimate rulers of a Muslim commonwealth centred upon Cairo,” to its mad, albeit enlightened ruler
(al-Hakim, 10th and 11th centuries), to its burgeoning economy, “heightened by the trading and manufacturing of agricultural produce,” such as flax for linen and
Sugarcane, “to supply an export as well as an internal market.”