Ibn Khaldun comes immediately to mind when reading Justin Marozzi’s Islamic Empires.

Historical narratives, like the imperial chronicles, have been dominated by men where either women remain absent, or appear in marginal references.

On a fateful day in October 78 CE, Mount Vesuvius woke up from its 500-year long dormant sleep and began to spew thousands of tons of molten ash into the air above the Bay of Naples sealing down the fate of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplantis and villages around the Sarna River.

The madrasa system evolved over the centuries in the early Islamic period. During the Fatimid and Abbasid reigns Muslims felt an earnest demand to seek out critical answers to several new and old questions emerging from philosophy, theology, mysticism and philology.

Hannah Arendt focuses on her life in New York during the prime of her academic career. In 1961, she was asked by William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker, to write an eyewitness account of the trial, in Israel, of Otto Adolf Eichmann, the German Nazi colonel and a major organiser of the Holocaust.

Pakistan has been described as a ‘tinderbox’ by the Indian journalist M J Akbar, and as sliding towards oblivion by a string of western academics and writers. Somehow Allah, Army and America have all conspired to create a declining security state. Yet, Pakistan is still there!