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In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    Not the easiest book to follow, especially since ebooks still do

    Not the easiest book to follow, especially since ebooks still don't make it easy to thumb back and forth in the text and there is a great deal of history and historical characters to keep in mind. There is a useful list of players in the back.

    Holland's book makes an interesting contrast with Robert Spencer's <i>Did Muhammad Exist?</i>
    , which proposes some reasons for a negative response to the titular question. Holland deals with the same evidence but supposes that Muhammad did indeed exist, that the Quran at least pretty much reflects his beliefs, but that neither Muhammad nor the Quran was as important to the astoundingly sudden Arab conquest of the Mideast as we suppose. It became convenient for various parties to insert a religious motive for that conquest as time went on due to a complex weave of circumstances. In the course of his narrative Holland shows how Quranic and post-Quranic Muslim doctrine may have been influenced by Jewish, Christian, Zoroatrian and other sources. While admitting to an early origin for the Quran, Holland believes that the Hadiths and the early biographies of Muhammad reflected less Muhammad's teachings than an attempt to attribute to Muhammad the doctrines of the Muslims who created them much later. It should be said that Muhammad plays a very small part in this book compared with Muslim-influenced histories of the same period. Difficult though it may be, this is a worthwhile, convincing book which deserves the highest recommendation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    If you want history, information about the middle east -its peop

    If you want history, information about the middle east -its peoples and religion-then this is a MUST-read!  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    Once again Tom Holland has wowed me with his exceptional writing

    Once again Tom Holland has wowed me with his exceptional writing. This book covers a vast (and difficult) period of history with great detail and prose. He is well researched and his efforts in finding sources show true dedication. Holland is definitely my favorite historian.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    E

    S

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    What?

    This was one of the most difficult books to read that I have ever encountered. The narration is constantly zigzagging between centuries, empires, and rulers to the extent it is impossible to have an over-all grasp of the history. The style of writing is not easy to read and your mind is totally lost with all the names, locations, and centuries that are thrown at you all the time. After about 150 pages I gave up, archived the book, and deleted it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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