Justin Marozzi is a Trustee of the Royal Geographical Society and a Senior Research Fellow at Buckingham University. A former Financial Times and Economist foreign correspondent, he has spent much of the past two decades living and working in the Middle East. His previous books include South from Barbary- Along the Slave Routes of the Libyan Sahara (2001), the bestselling Tamberlane- Sword of Islam (2004), The Man Who Invented History- Travels with Herodotus (2008) and Baghdad- City of Peace, City of Blood (2014), which won the Ondaatje Prize.
The approach is perfect [and] the balance between telling detail and telling story is spot on. With its fine drawing and mass of minute detail, reading the book is more like poring over the framed miniatures in a manuscript: here a Moghul lolls by a pool, there a Timurid rampages across the page. The prose, too, is beautifully paced, sprightly but never tiring. And the city portraits build up into a panorama of Islamic civilisation as full as any history, and far more entertaining. * The Evening Standard * Marozzi is an outstanding guide to the urban centres he expounds on, partly because of his deep understanding and love for the peoples and places he writes about. . . . The succession of delightful pen portraits of rulers, as well as writers, artists and scholars, makes for a riveting read. This is a fine book that helps recentre our understanding of the past by focusing on cities about which little is known in Europe, in spite of their enduring importance and the role they have played in history. It is a compelling and personal account by an author who knows, cares and has thought deeply about his subject matter. It is a new Hudud al-Alam, the famous 10th-century Persian geography book, for the 21st century - informing, revealing and delighting in some of the parts of the world that everyone should know about. * The Sunday Times *