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The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In
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The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  337 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In this engaging history, world-renowned historian Hugh Kennedy deftly sews together the stories of the people, armies, and events that conquered an area from Spain to China in just over 100 years.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,433)
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Libby
This book taught me sooo much I didn't know and did it so painlessly! How can you beat that? Hugh Kennedy packed an incredible amount of information into this book, while managing to make it a smooth and enjoyable read. Despite possessing a degree in history, I have huge gaps in my knowledge. You could drive an Empire through my pathetic understanding of the Middle East and its history. I had this vague idea that the Arabs just came boiling out of the Arabian peninsula and vanquished everybody w ...more
Tin Wee
For whatever reasons, the arabs never kept many detailed records of their conquests, choosing to extol individual acts of courage/ shame, so this book is a 'best guess' chronicle of the expansion of Islam through the Middle East. At its height, the empire stretched from Spain to the borders of China. It was aided by great timing - the Byzantine and the Persian empires were in decline after infighting and plague, and even the Christian communities were fighting over theological differences. It se ...more
Ahmad
Hugh Kennedy's over cautious and suspicious treatment of Arab sources makes this a bumpy read. The book though is informative but should not be the definitive book on the subject rather a supplement to other works. The author's attempt at neutrality fails and he leaves no doubt as to which side he supports. In some instances the Islamic perspectives are not even mentioned for e.g.the battle of Tours.
Amer
الكتاب يتصف بكثافة المعلومات التاريخية مما يجعله صعب القراءة لغير المتخصص في التاريخ، لكنه بالمقابل يجاوب عن سؤالين مهمين:
1-لماذا كان الفتح الإسلامي يتصف بالسرعة(فتوحات القرن السابع والثامن الميلادي)
2-لماذا تحول الفتح الإسلامي الى استقرار وتغيير دين البلدان المفتوحة الى الإسلام(بالطبع توجد إستثناءات معدودة)

بالنسبة لإجابة السؤال الأول فقد أرجع الكاتب الكثير من هذه الأسباب الى ضعف الدولة البيزنطية بعد حروبها مع الفرس، والى إنتشار وباء الطاعون قبل الفتح مباشرة مما أدى الى نقصان في الكثافة السكانية.
...more
'Aussie Rick'
The Great Arab Conquests by Hugh Kennedy is a delightful book to read, full of interesting facts and great stories. I have read numerous books on the Roman Empire, Byzantium and the Crusades, this book fills in the gaps between those periods.

The Great Arab Conquests covers the period from death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 to the beginning of the Abbasid Caliphate in 750. We follow the victorious Arab armies as they spread from Mecca and Medina out through the Middle East into Afghanistan, in
...more
Lucas
First off, it must be said that I cannot review this work with any great deal of experience in early Islamic history. My focus is Byzantium, and although I have read studied the opening decades of the conflict between the Byzantines and the Arabs extensively, I am not qualified to comment on anything beyond that. I read this book as an utter novice to early Islamic history.

Hugh Kennedy, who has quite an impressive bibliography of books alone on the early centuries of Islam has written a major re
...more
Reid
I've never read anything by Kennedy before but his treatment of the difficult subject matter was fair and nonjudgmental, something we take for granted in good history. Kennedy follows the expansion of Islam from Medina through the middle of the eight century. The book follows a geographical scheme which can become labored, as we hear of the various campaigns of Muslim general who most of us haven't heard of. Other than the deep detail we get from Kennedy, the book is great. The most instructive ...more
Haitham fahmy
آفة الرأي الهوي ... عندما يتم تلخيص سبب الفتوح الاسلاميه فى الصدفه والحظ فقط فهو التعصب والتحيز .. فنجاح المسلمين فى دخول مصر سببه الانقسام الطائفي بين الطبقه الحاكمه من قبل البيزنطيين والشعب المصري وسبب فتحهم الشام وباء اصاب اراض الشام فأخلى الاراضي من المدافعين .. وسبب فتح العراق وايران الحقد واتساع الفجوه بين الفلاحين وطبقه الامراء... لادور هنا لبساله وشجاعة وتكتيك المسلمين ... الغريب ان الكاتب يشكك فى الاخبار اذا جائت من كاتب عربي او مسلم .. ويقبلها برحابة صدر اذا اتت من مصدر غير عربي ... ال ...more
Arief Bakhtiar D.
DUA bulan yang lalu saya membaca buku Hiburan Orang-orang Shalih—judul buku itu, mungkin karena dimaksudkan sebagai sebuah kalimat doa, terlalu tinggi menilai saya. Buku itu saya pinjam dari perpustakaan daerah, sekedar buat mengisi waktu. Di dalamnya diceritakan ceramah Malik bin Dinar, seorang tabi’in yang sempat bertemu dan didoakan oleh Anas bin Malik.

Dari penelusuran lain, yang saya belum tahu kebenaran sejarahnya, Malik hidup dari menulis kitab, dan mendapat honor dari itu. Di rumahnya, ba
...more
Diane
Fascinating history of the early days of Islam, focusing on its' soldiers conquering of the Middle East. The author strikes the right balance between attention to detail and a broader narrative about the culture of the times. He shows how a unique set of historical circumstances led to weaknesses in the surrounding empires and principalities at exactly the time the early Muslims were seeking to conquer new areas for their faith. The author also does a good job of considering the position of the ...more
Omar Ali
Very readable.
A very fair and balanced account (or so it seemed to me).. Having recently read "Empires of the Silk Road" I had a somewhat different picture of the Central Asian account though..
Aya Abdeen
احم احم وللمرة العشرتاشر احب اقول اني هقراه كمان مرة لانو محتاج دراسة مش مجرد قراءة كدا الواحد يمر عليه مرور الكرام

Michael
Very interesting book, but extremely dense and dry. Hard to get through reading it casually!
Brian
Since next to nothing seems to have been written about these events when they occurred, most of what is known, beyond the absolute basics, is based on conjecture and archaeology. And since significant portions of the conquered lands are either still rife with violence (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq) or unavailable for international study (Iran, Libya, Syria), even the archaeological evidence can be sketchy.

So what do we have here? A very, very general sketch of one of the most expansive conquests in w
...more
Mike
This work basically covers the period from the death of Muhammad (632AD) to 750AD when the Arab conquests(as distinguished from later Muslim expansion) reached its greatest extent. This is a difficult period for the historian because there are virtually no contemporary Arabic sources (b/c of limited literacy and no historical tradition)and few Greek/Syriac/Persian/Coptic sources for various reasons. So, much reliance must be placed on sources written a centursy or more after the events that are ...more
Muhammad
Within just 15 years of his death, the followers of Muhammad swept across the Arabian Peninsula and defeated armies from 2 great empires of the time. The decades that follow these early conquests saw Muslim armies clashing with the troops of the Tang Dynasty in China, marching across Spain and launching sieges on the castles of Austria.
The remarkable speed at which the Islamic civilization exploded onto the world map has always fascinated historians.

By examining primary sources beyond the Arab
...more
Vikram Kumar
This is a wonderfully written time for those with any sort of interest in the early Arab world. Kennedy writes superbly and helps explain ideas and concepts that would normally be alien to any non-scholar. While the work may not be directed at scholars per se, Professor Kennedy writes with scholastic undertones and often includes many helpful footnotes and stresses the importance of primary sources. His careful analysis of sources shows how careful and diligent a historian he is. The work itself ...more
Ross
Good reading for (way) backstory on current events. Author has advantage over previous writers by reading original contemporary Persian records, as well as Byzantine sources in greek, which counterpoint and augment traditional Arab texts. Interesting outline of different Arab tribes who took over the different middle eastern areas at different times, and the politics of Mecca vs Medina. A good deal is about the people they took over administering; eg; Copts, Nestorians, people of the book, and s ...more
Rebecca Reid
I read about 20% of the book this weekend. I must admit I'm having a hard time. The tone is conversational, but I feel like names and dates and places are being thrown at me. I am enjoying the background to the conquests, but I'm not thinking I'm going to get the book finished at this time.

All this may simply be me, not the book. I have a newborn (two months old) and so maybe it's simply that my sleep-deprived brain cannot focus on it right now. I may return to it at another time, another year m
...more
Zachary Moore
An excellent and lively narrative history of a epoch-making event that generally receives a curiously cursory treatment in most works on the history of the region and the period. I particularly enjoyed Kennedy's close attention to the geography of the lands conquered--it makes the events much more immediate to the reader. Kennedy also does a fine job weaving in details of the available narrative sources while also critiquing the various authors and genres encountered in the history of the conque ...more
Wendell Jones
This is a detailed account of the historic breakout from the Arabian peninsula by the Muslims in the seventh and eighth centuries, the most important event in the history of Islam after the founding of the religion. Not easy reading, but a great source for anyone wanting to know more than what is in most general history books. The author does not use the terms BCE or CE, so in vogue among western secularists.
Dan
Mar 17, 2009 Dan is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I keep getting bored. So Kalid b. al Wazid did this, or Jabala b. Ayham did blah blah blah... I thought this might be a fun read about the conquest and subjugation of masses of people, but it's pretty dull. It's a narrative history, but the author sometimes jumps back and forth in the timeline, and occasionally repeats the same facts two or three times. Kind of informative, but a dull read.
Fakih
this book try to describes a history of all Arab conquests on Irak, Iran, Egypt, and so on..including to Qadisiyya war that Rustam died on that moment..its describes the stories of another side of Muslim conquest. For Muslim, the story about Arab conquest will be described as a well deeds, but kennedy cited it in this book whole the sides of story, whether it is good or bad of Arab conquest.
Aimee
A bit of a dull read. I prefer the "Hinges of History" series. Bottom line.... Islam began at the same time as a power vacuum in the lands around Arabia. Good timing..... and the religion was not nearly as hard-line as what we observe in the Middle East/Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan now.....
Steve Groves
Good book for filling the gaps regarding the history of the conquests. Shows what was happening in the Byzantine and Persian empires at the time to allow some rapid expansion. A bit cry in parts and became a bit repetitive towards the end, but overall improved my understanding of the era.
Agus
waduh.. sebenernya susah juga kasih review. Soalnya ane baca terjemahan Indonesianya.. yang maaf kate.. kualitas terjemahannya payah banget. Akibatnya kadang agak2 bingung juga baca bukunya. Tapi terlepas dari itu, sepertinya teknik penceritaannya agak membosankan.
Douglas
This is a tremendous story excellently told of how the Muslims seized their moment and created a great dominion orchestrated by wise heads in their homeland and carried out by brilliant commanders.
Robert Mccarthy
Very fun and interesting read. It fills in the gaps between the fall of the Hellenistic east and the rise of the Muslim east. It was fast paced and a page turner.
Abbass
My first book on the topic of arabic conquests, I'm left with mixed emotions about what happened and definitly need to read more
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NOTE: There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads.
Hugh^Kennedy

Has studies Arabic at the Middle East Centre for Arabic Studies. Went on to read Arabic, Persian & History at Cambridge. Taught in the Department of Medieval History at St Andrews since 1972, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2000).
More about Hugh Kennedy...
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century Muslim Spain and Portugal: A Political History of Al-Andalus Mongols, Huns & Vikings Crusader Castles

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