Witnesses to a World Crisis

Witnesses to a World Crisis : Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century


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James Howard-Johnston provides a sweeping and highly readable account of probably the most dramatic single episode in world history - the emergence of a new religion (Islam), the destruction of two established great powers (Roman and Iranian), and the creation of a new world empire by the Arabs, all in the space of not much more than a generation (610-52 AD). Warfare looms large, especially where operations can be followed in some detail, as in Iraq 636-40, in Egypt 641-2 and in the long-drawn out battle for the Mediterranean (649-98). As the first history of the formative phase of Islam to be grounded in the important non-Islamic as well as Islamic sources Witnesses to a World Crisis is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand Islam as a religion and political force, the modern Middle East, and the jihadist impulse, which is as evident today as it was in the seventh century.

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  • Hardback | 576 pages
  • 160 x 236 x 42mm | 1,038.72g
  • Oxford University Press
  • OxfordUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • 9 maps
  • 019920859X
  • 9780199208593
  • 1,352,583

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[James Howard-Johnston] is admirably clear in describing his approach Chase Robinson, Times Literary Supplement the book abounds with interesting arguments ... Howard-Johnston's critical eye and clarity of exposition are sustained from start to finish ... this volume is a rich and remarkable achievement: it constitutes a truly foundational work for the study of the 'new world order' of the seventh-century East. Brian Croke, English Historical Review Witnesses to a World Crisis will appeal to layman and scholar alike thanks to the balance being struck between critical analysis en detail and the bigger picture of international relations between byzantines, Persians and Muslim Arabs, presented in lucid prose. The reader is never in danger of getting lost on this tour de force, since the analysis of the sources proceeds along chronological lines, which allows Howard-Johnston to weave together the strands of evidence as he goes along, and to lead the reader to an understanding of how developments in this period shaped the following centuries, reaching as far as the present day. Berenike Walburg, The Medieval Journal a pandramatic narrative, limpid and exhilarating in equal measure, as gripping as its emphases are well-judged, with not a word wasted. Professor Aziz Al-Azmeh, Central European University Few events have been more decisive for the history of the world than the preaching of Muhammad and the subsequent expansion of his followers. After this book they will never seem the same again. John Moorhead, Australia Journal of Politics and History

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About James Howard-Johnston

James Howard-Johnston is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was University Lecturer in Byzantine Studies from 1971 to 2009. He has travelled extensively in the Middle East and East Mediterranean, and escaped for a while from the confines of academic life by serving on Oxford City Council (1971-6) and Oxfordshire County Council (1973-7, 1981-7). He is married to the novelist Angela Huth and has a step-daughter and daughter.

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