On opening The Mosque, most readers are likely to wonder that such a book has not been attempted earlier, for the topic is so obviously suitable for comparative study. The editors and their fourteen collaborators explain the mosque as an expression of Islam, analyse the characteristic styles of nine regions ranging from West Africa to China, and then report on the contemporary scene.
The last topic may be the most original and important, for Westerners are far more familiar with the celebrated mosques of the pre-modern period than with those of the twentieth century. Oleg Grabar and Mohammed Arkoun provide typically brilliant insights while Khan surveys the architectural variances ranging from the pseudo-classicism of the Islamic Center Mosque in Washington, D.C. to the astonishing modernism of the Sherefuddin Mosque in Bosnia.
Too often, in a specialized field such as Middle Eastern studies, a reviewer finds himself lamenting the excessive prices of books. How refreshing, then, to be able to compliment Thames and Hudson for including 378 illustrations, 170 of them in color, and yet charging very little more than the average scholarly book. This pricing decision brings The Mosque within the means of individual purchasers -- and even pressures them to buy the book to prove that moderate prices do in fact lead to larger sales.