PARAGRAPHNew York: Columbia University Press, Readers have long celebrated the Thousand and One Nights as a work that transcends cultural divides: during the last three centuries, it has been read and enjoyed as much in its translations into the European languages as in Arabic. The popularity of the English and French translations in particular perhaps accounts for the fact that it has been discussed in modern scholarship mainly from the perspective of Western culture and Western letters: its tangled translation history and its wide influence on European narrative have furnished especially popular subjects for scholarly study. His unique contribution to scholarship on the text lies in his emphasis on two themes in particular. For the most part resisting the urge to leap centuries in analyzing the narratives of the Nights , he consistently emphasizes the Abbasid environment in which the Arabic text was first recorded and the broader imperial context in which it was transmitted and elaborated. Given the vast historical and geographical reach of his material, his book has the feel of a scholarly shadow version of the Nights : a bursting portmanteau of intriguing details, a work of truly epic scope.