Libby's Reviews > The Great Arab Conquests: How The Spread Of Islam Changed The World We Live In

The Great Arab Conquests by Hugh Kennedy
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's review
Apr 22, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: religion, ancient-world, islam
Read from May 06 to 08, 2012

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 within reach, looting indiscriminately and destroying art, irrigation systems and cities. But it didn't happen quite like that. First of all, the territories that the Arabs invaded were already in poor shape, depopulated by repeated plague epidemics, impoverished and exhausted by a catastrophic war between the Byzantines and the Sassanid Persian Empire, and hopelessly divided by religious rivalries between differing sects of Christianity. Undoubtedly the conquests brought destruction and chaos with them, but things were in bad shape before Mohammad decamped from Mecca to Medina. The wars of conquest were also more gradual than I had imagined. Certainly, the Arab armies were capable of rapid deployment. They could and did make amazing marches in record times. However, it took many seasons of campaigning and two to three generations of fighters before the new territories were subdued. Kennedy provides several helpful maps to accompany his narrative. He clarifies naming practices so the reader doesn't get bogged down in unfamiliar names. When important actions occurred at the same time, he makes that clear, as well. Altogether, this is an exciting story of a process that remade our world. I found it absorbing and relevant and I'm sure other readers will too.
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Reading Progress

05/07 "I'm on pg 289 and still glued to the pages. The Arabs are still winning."
05/07 "I'm on pg 289 and still glued to the pages. The Arabs are still winning."
06/04 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Libby This is fascinating but my ignorance of Islamic history is so complete that I'm going very slow and constantly looking things up and consulting the maps and footnotes.

message 2: by Jay (new)

Jay Ditto in regard to ignorance about Middle Eastern history. What I know about the history of Islam is meshed with Spanish history and stops in 1492.

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