Ever since the appearance of the fifth and final volume (to be supplemented by Paula Sanders' excellent and indispensable cumulative index volume in 1993) of Goitein's magisterial reconstruction of Jewish social and economic life in the medieval Islamic Mediterranean world, there has been a general recognition of the need for an abridgement that would make the work more immediately accessible to the educated lay reader and could be a useful text for college students of Jewish, Islamic or even general medieval history. After all, such useful epitomes have been made—and remain popular—for such voluminous masterpieces as Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Toynbee's A Study of History, or Frazer's The Golden Bough. Jacob Lassner's skillful one-volume edited abridgement has in part filled the need that was so sorely felt. I say “in part,” because the editor explains in his engaging Foreword (pp. xi–xxii) that it was in his view insufficient merely to delete major segments of the original (as any such abridgement would require), nor was it enough to rearrange the order of the segments that he had selected (a perhaps debatable, but certainly justifiable editorial decision which this reviewer finds quite successful), but rather it was “deemed necessary” to go beyond pruning Goitein's style and occasionally “to rewrite entire passages for the sake of clarity.” This latter editorial decision is somewhat unsettling since an author's voice, even when idiosyncratic or even flawed, is still his own. There is a slight echo of fertaytsht un ferbesert in such a tack.