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In The Shadow Of The Sword

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349122359

Price: £14.99

ON SALE: 4th April 2013

Genre: Humanities / History

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A SUNDAY TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLER



‘A stunning blockbuster’ Robert Fisk

‘A brilliant tour de force of revisionist scholarship and thrilling storytelling’ Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘A compelling detective story of the highest order’ Sunday Times

‘Tom Holland has an enviable gift for summoning up the colour, the individuals and animation of the past’ Independent

In the 6th century AD, the Near East was divided between two venerable empires: the Persian and the Roman. A hundred years on and one had vanished forever, while the other seemed almost finished. Ruling in their place were the Arabs: an upheaval so profound that it spelt, in effect, the end of the ancient world. In the Shadow of the Sword explores how this came about. Spanning from Constantinople to the Arabian desert, and starring some of the most remarkable rulers who ever lived, he tells a story vivid with drama, horror, and startling achievement.

Reviews

Written with flamboyant elegance and energetic intensity, Holland delivers a brilliant tour de force of revisionist scholarship and thrilling storytelling with a bloodspattered cast of swashbuckling tyrants, nymphomaniacal empresses and visionary prophets . . . Unputdownable
Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Times
A stunning blockbuster
Robert Fisk, Independent
This is a book of extraordinary richness... Tom Holland has an enviable gift for summoning up the colour, the individuals and animation of the past, without sacrificing factual integrity... He is also a divertingly inventive writer with a wicked wit... This is a history of history as it were... wonderfully hard-hitting analysis, elegantly tied into the unfolding narrative of events, with each religious establishment exposed in all its glory and treacherous realpolitik... a spell-bindingly brilliant multiple portrait of the triumph of monotheism in the ancient world
Barnaby Rogerson, Independent
Holland leaves almost no aspect of the traditional story of Islam intact as he charts its rise to global power from the ashes of the Roman and Persian empires
Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times
Holland is a restless wanderer across the ancient world, both geographically and intellectually... A dazzling range of characters... Holland is a skilful and energetic narrator, and while he guides us along the more intricate twists and turns of the period, he also keeps our eyes on the bigger story
Anthony Sattin, Observer
A work of history, trying to tell the truth, as modern historians understand that fraught concept... A gripping, colourful book
Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
A brave and valuable attempt to train the lens of popular history upon an exceptionally contentious field of study... elegant and entertaining... In the Shadow of the Sword stands as a useful, and sometimes provocative, starting point for anyone interested in approaching the birth of Islam from a historical, rather than devotional, perspective
Thomas Ashbridge, Literary Review
It is difficult not to be bedazzled by a cast that includes ulcerated Christian holy men, Zoroastrian priests obsessed with dental hygiene, demonic emperors, barbarians with self-inflicted cranial deformities and Arab ambassadors stinking of camel
Richard Miles, Financial Times
Those unwilling to struggle through academic texts have long needed a guide to the story of Islam as it's understood by those with the fullest access to the latest linguistic and archaeological evidence. Now at last in Tom Holland's In the Shadow of the Sword, they finally have it
David Frum, Daily Beast
Tom Holland is a writer of clarity and expertise, who talks us through this unfamiliar and crowded territory with energy and some dry wit... The emergence of Islam is a notoriously risky subject, so a confident historian who is able to explain where this great religion came from without illusion or dissimulation has us greatly in his debt
Philip Hensher, Spectator
A compelling detective story of the highest order, In the Shadow of the Sword is also a dazzlingly colourful journey into the world of late antiquity. Every bit as thrilling a narrative history as Holland's previous works, [it] is also a profoundly important book
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
A handsome volume, tackling an important question from a novel perspective, backed by useful notes and written in an accessible and fluid style
Michael Scott, Sunday Telegraph
A great achievement... A compelling detective story of the highest order, In the Shadow of the Sword is also a dazzlingly colourful journey into the world of late antiquity. Every bit as thrilling a narrative history as Holland's previous works, In the Shadow of the Sword is also a profoundly important book. It makes public and popular what scholarship has been discovering for several decades now; and those discoveries suggest a wholesale revision of where Islam came from and what it is
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
Elegantly written and refreshingly free from specialist jargon... marshalling its resources with dexterity, it is a veritable tour de force
Malise Ruthven, Wall Street Journal
Holland's new book traces the process by which the world of the first millennium came to be dominated by one God, three religions and an innumerable succession of emperors
Dan Jones, Daily Telegraph
It takes courage and intellect to confront such complexity and sensitivity. Written with flamboyant elegance and energetic intensity, Holland delivers a brilliant tour de force of revisionist scholarship and thrilling storytelling with a blood-spattered cast of swashbuckling tyrants, nymphomanaical empresses and visionary prophets... Unputdownable
Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Times
Sweeping and perceptive. His major achievement is to set out just how uncertain is our grasp on the immediate setting of Muhammad's life, and on the formation of the Koran. At this moment in world history above all, it should be required reading
Professor Sir Fergus Millar