The editor notes in her foreword that no Arab or Muslim in modern times "has ever visited al-Andalus [the Muslim name for Spain] and viewed its great Islamic monuments without experiencing a mixture of pride and regret." But wistfulness extends to others too. Jews remember Spain's Muslim period as a golden age, as do more than a few Catholic Spaniards. Romantics, historians of science and philosophy, ethnomusicologists, and others all take special interest in Muslim Spain (A.D. 711-1492).

To commemorate the quincentennial of its demise, Jayyusi put together a conference in Granada, attended by King Juan Carlos and an international array of specialists, to survey every aspect of Andalusian life from political history to cuisine, from religious practices to gardening.The result is a two-volume compendium of some fifty essays that contains all that a nonspecialist might want to know on the subject. Of particular interest are the articles that, in the spirit of the book's title, point to Muslim Spain's historical impact. Abbas Hamdani spells out its unsung but vital contribution to the voyages of discovery, including such little-known events as the Portuguese drive to Mecca. Luce López-Baralt reveals Spain's long and deep reluctance to acknowledge its literary debt to Andalus, and yet how this has rapidly changed in recent years, to the point that one writer, Juan Goytisolo, symbolically finished his novel, Juan sin tierra, in the Arabic language.