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This is a fascinating historical narrative of the Arab Muslim conquests of the Middle East and beyond from 632 C.E. to 750 C.E. Kennedy (medieval history, Univ. of St. Andrews, Scotland; When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty) does a marvelous job of drawing upon and interpreting the written conquest accounts of the Arabs, and of the people they conquered, including the Byzantines, Christians, Persians, and Jews, while using the research of modern historians to give as clear and rich an account as possible. His analysis comes down to the instability of the Byzantine and Persian Empires, the small populations owing to the plague that occurred just before the conquests, the absence of any real resistance by local populations being conquered, and the toughness of the Arab armies and their ability to move quickly. The book also includes a chapter of personal responses (both positive and negative) to the conquests, ranging from a Chinese prisoner of war to letters of vanquished Greeks. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.