Though originally written and published over 125 years ago, The Story of the Moors in Spain by Stanley Lane-Poole is an quick, easy, and informative read. Although the book is not up to the scholarship standards of today, Lane-Poole uses the sources at his disposal along folklore, traditional Spanish ballads, and romantic history written by Washington Irving to produce a most engaging book. Lane-Poole always denoted in the text when he was going on either the folklore, ballads, or romantic history insertions for the reader as a way to bring history alive and when they were contrary to actual history he made note of it.
One of the biggest negatives of the book that one notices is that Lane-Poole engages in perpetuating the Black Legend that has tainted the perception of the Spanish since it’s creation. At the beginning and ending of the text, Lane-Poole laments that the Spaniards decided to reject the civilization of the Islamic Moors for the backwardness of the Catholic (note I said Catholic not Christian) “crusaders” then points out certain incidents that prove his point. To be fair to Lane-Poole, one can not use today’s standards to judge him and when a Christian showed “civilized” behavior and a Moor “uncivilized” he did point it out. However, there was always the perception that these incidents were few and far between.
Even with this negative to the text, The Story of the Moors in Spain is an excellent way to begin learning about the Islamic period on the Iberian peninsula. However this book should not be your last on the subject.