In the Shadow of the Sword by Tom Holland

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In a view that Mr. Holland takes forward from Wansbrough and his disciples, Islam was born not in the deserts of Arabia but in the borders of Syria-Palestine...
-WSJ online

Synopsis

The acclaimed author of Rubicon and other superb works of popular history now produces a thrillingly panoramic (and incredibly timely) account of the rise of Islam.
 
No less significant than the collapse of the Roman Republic or the Persian invasion of Greece, the evolution of the Arab empire is one of the supreme narratives of ancient history, a story dazzlingly rich in drama, character, and achievement.  Just like the Romans, the Arabs came from nowhere to carve out a stupefyingly vast dominion—except that they achieved their conquests not over the course of centuries as the Romans did but in a matter of decades. Just like the Greeks during the Persian wars, they overcame seemingly insuperable odds to emerge triumphant against the greatest empire of the day—not by standing on the defensive, however, but by hurling themselves against all who lay in their path.
 

About Tom Holland

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Historian Tom Holland is the author of the works of history Rubicon, Persian Fire, and The Forge of Christendom. He reviews regularly for the TLS, and has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Virgil for BBC Radio. 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 www.tom-holland.org www.doubleday.com
 
Published May 15, 2012 by Anchor. 545 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for In the Shadow of the Sword
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Glen Bowersock on May 04 2012

...Holland's cavalier treatment of his sources, ignorance of current research and lack of linguistic and historical acumen serve to undermine his provocative narrative.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Anthony Sattin on Apr 05 2012

The lives of some people who have dared to question the historicity of the prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an have been ruined, even ended. We must hope that Holland is spared their wrath and that his excellent book will be lauded...

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Malise Ruthven on May 11 2012

In a view that Mr. Holland takes forward from Wansbrough and his disciples, Islam was born not in the deserts of Arabia but in the borders of Syria-Palestine...

Read Full Review of In the Shadow of the Sword | See more reviews from WSJ online

Things Mean a Lot

Good
Reviewed by Ana on May 14 2012

...I love him for making a YA novel so unapologetically literary, for not assuming all these references would be wasted on teen readers, for writing up rather than writing down.

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Reader Rating for In the Shadow of the Sword
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