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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

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  458 Ratings  ·  55 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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Apr 22, 2015 Libby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2011 Tin Wee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mohamed Ramadan
من حين لآخر يجنح المؤلف إلى تفسيرات أحادية والتي تختزل السببية التاريخية في الرغبة الجامحة للحصول على الأسلاب والغنائم ,, ودائمًا وأبدًا إلا فيما ندر يعوّل النصر لأسباب عدة وليس من ضمنها بالطبع التكتيك والنبوغ العسكري للجيوش الإسلامية وإيمانهم الراسخ والذي كان أكبر وأقوى دافع
ففي الشام عوّل على الطاعون الذي أصاب البلد وترك الجيش مريض ضعيف
ومع الفرس فقد كانت الفُرقة والتصارع على الحكم هو السبب في ضياع الفرس
وفي مصر الخلافات الطاحنة بين ممثل الكنيسة المبعوث من الدولة الرومانية وبين المصريين وعدم الإ
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
John Caviglia
Jul 18, 2015 John Caviglia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, middle-east
Surprisingly uninteresting, considering the immensity and rapidity of the Arab conquest, its incalculable impact on the modern world, and the fascinations provided by that fount of conquest himself, Mohammed. Part of the bleh I attribute to plodding professorial prose (which, admittedly, here suffers in contrast to Keegan’s absolutely brilliant writing in The Face of Battle, recently read). Some of the remaining bleh is comprised by the enterprise itself, for the Arabs in large part overran two ...more
Dec 25, 2011 Ahmad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 01, 2014 Amer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
'Aussie Rick'
Dec 10, 2012 'Aussie Rick' rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, middle-east
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
Mar 13, 2008 Reid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 23, 2015 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad to have read this book, but gladder just to be done with it. This has been a bit of a plodding read, and I have read a number of other books between this ones pages. As others have noted, Kennedy often repeats how little he has to go on,which is a little tiring. To make up for it, there are pages of whatever quotations are available. I am seldom a fan of too much quoted text, and this book has too much of it without enough compelling connection to the story line.

But, I wanted to learn
Mar 03, 2016 Anatolikon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: islam, mediaeval
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
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Kennedy traces the Arab conquests from the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 to their conclusion at the door steps of China in the East and Europe in the west just over hundred years later.

Kennedy ascribes the amazing success of these conquests to several attributes:

--Muslim solidarity behind their self-confident religion and its promises of success in victory and eternal glory in honorable defeat.

--Arabic physical endurance as they marched from the desert reaches of the Saudi Arabian penins
Elliott Bignell
Apr 11, 2015 Elliott Bignell rated it it was amazing
This wonderful account clarifies a period that has fascinated me from a position of ignorance for many years now. Written with style and with sympathy for its subjects, it performs neither hagiography nor demonisation of its Muslim subjects, engagingly investigating the enigma of this remarkable wave of transformation without claiming to know more than the obscure and partial records justify. For a lay audience it could not be better presented - exciting while measured and perfectly readable, on ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2014 Omar Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2014 Aya Abdeen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
احم احم وللمرة العشرتاشر احب اقول اني هقراه كمان مرة لانو محتاج دراسة مش مجرد قراءة كدا الواحد يمر عليه مرور الكرام

Very interesting book, but extremely dense and dry. Hard to get through reading it casually!
-Sobre unos eventos que marcaron, en buena medida, el mundo que conocemos.-

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Acercamiento a los eventos y circunstancias que permitieron que, en poco más de un siglo desde la muerte de Mahoma, el Islam se extendiese mediante conquistas desde Asia Central hasta la Península Ibérica a partir de un pequeño pueblo sin ventajas geográficas, económicas ni de ningún tipo, excepto su fe.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

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 ruma
Dec 14, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
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
Aug 01, 2011 Muhammad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vikram Kumar
Jan 12, 2014 Vikram Kumar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 15, 2015 AlReem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب جيد لمحبي التاريخ يسرد قصص تاريخية من الجانب الإسلامي و الجانب الآخر اكثر ماشد انتباهي في هذا الكتاب القصص من الجانب الآخر الي نادر ما نقرأها ونعرفها فالطرح الإسلامي للتاريخ.. هناك بعض النقاط على الكاتب وهو تشكيكه المستمر بالمصادر الاسلامية مما اثر على الكتاب ومصداقيته بشكل عام، و ايضا توسعه الكبير في التفاصيل حيث يبدأ بشرح تفاصيل الكلام و المفردات ربما يكون مفيدا للقارئ غير الملم بالإسلام و اللغة العربية ولكن لنا كقراء عرب مُلمين بهذي التفاصيل قد يكون نوع من انواع تشتيت الذهن والتكرار ..
Oct 04, 2015 Jungshi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Superb narrative and a movie like experience
Sep 04, 2014 Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher Earl
Excellent overview
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
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
Oct 11, 2011 Wendell Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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NOTE: There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads.

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).
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