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

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

Book rating: 02 Paperback

By (author) Tom Holland

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  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press
  • Format: Paperback | 526 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 204mm x 28mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 2 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0307473651
  • ISBN 13: 9780307473653
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, maps
  • Sales rank: 34,058

Product description

A thrillingly panoramic and incredibly timely account of the rise of Islam, from the acclaimed author of "Rubicon "and "Persian Fire." The evolution of the Arab empire is one of the supreme narratives of ancient history, a story dazzlingly rich in drama, character, and achievement. In this exciting and sweeping history--the third in his trilogy of books on the ancient world--Holland describes how the Arabs emerged to carve out a stupefyingly vast dominion in a matter of decades, overcoming seemingly insuperable odds to create an imperial civilization aspects of which endure to the present day. With profound bearing on the most consequential events of our time, Holland ties the exciting story of Islam's ascent to the crises and controversies of the present.

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Author information

Historian Tom Holland is the author of the nonfiction works of history "Rubicon," "Persian Fire," and "The Forge of Christendom." "Rubicon" was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the 2004 Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, and "Persian Fire" won the Anglo-Hellenic League's 2006 Runciman Award. @holland_tom

Customer reviews

By Lindsay Hughes 05 Mar 2014 4

This is an excellent study of the rise of pan-Arabism and Islam. The scholarship is extraordinary as is the story-telling. Hollande does not step back from making bold statements. These, however, are based on undeniable facts inasmuch as archaeology permits those. There are some leaps of faith in the reasoning, to be sure, but these are probably justified given the facts as we know them, facts that derive from archaeology and still extant texts and parchments. Some will, undoubtedly, find the language verbose but this will depend on personal taste and background. Hollande has taken a difficult subject - one which is germane to today's world - and made it readily understandable to the lay-person. It is difficult, overall, to fault the author's conclusions. Overall, it is an excellent study of a often-misunderstood subject.

By Peter Katz 24 Aug 2013 1

this book should be great. The subject is fascinating and poorly understood but vitally important as it describes the formation of the Christian and Islamic religions and an early clash of civilisations. The author clearly knows the subject and has done a lot of homework.
Unfortunately the book is so poorly written it is almost unreadable. Long boring repetitive sentences with flowery meaningless words in a jumble of unstructured paragraphs make the book a waste of time. The editor must have been asleep and the publisher relying on the title and cover for this book to get out as it did.
Don't waste 20 hours of your life tying to get through the hyperbole, don't waste your money, don't buy In the Shadow of the Sword.

Review quote

Praise for Tom Holland's "In the Shadow of the Sword " "Elegantly written. . . . A veritable tour de force." --"The Wall Street Journal" "A brilliant tour de force of revisionist scholarship and thrilling storytelling with a bloodspattered cast of swashbuckling tyrants, nymphomaniacal empresses and visionary prophets. The book is unputdownable. . . . An important work based on respected scholarship. It takes courage and intellect to confront such complexity and sensitivity. Written with flamboyant elegance and energetic intensity." --"The Times" (London) "Accessible but delightful . . . as fun to read as any thriller, and with far richer intellectual nutritional content. . . . Those unwilling to struggle through academic texts have long needed a guide to the story of Islam as it's understood by those with the fullest access to the latest linguistic and archaeological evidence. Now at last in Tom Holland's "In the Shadow of the Sword," they finally have it. . . . Holland--author previously of "Rubicon" and "Persian Fire"--is about as exciting a stylist as we have writing history today." --"The Daily Beast" "[Holland's] prose is shot through with wit and empathy. The result is a portrait of a lost world that is complex, contradictory and populated by people in thrall to ideas future generations would dismiss as ridiculous. Much like our own, in other words." --"Dallas Morning News" "[An] elegant study of the roiling era of internecine religious rivalry and epic strife that saw the nation of Islam rise and conquer. . . . Holland confronts questions in the Quranic text head-on, providing a substantive, fluid exegesis on the original documents. Smoothly composed history and fine scholarship." --"Kirkus Reviews" "Tom Holland is a writer of clarity and expertise, who talks us through this unfamiliar and crowded territory with energy and some dry wit. . . . The emergence of Islam is a notoriously risky subject,