In the shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire

by Tom Holland

I have good and bad news to report.

I will start with the good news since I was taught to always start with the good and I see no reason to change it. First on the list is I just finished reading Holland’s book and I can report that the first 10 centuries of the current era are so full of blood. It was one super power trying to overthrow the next and rule the world. It is in this mix of usurpation and war that Islam is brewed, though they join the scene quite late. Holland writes in this book that to understand the origin and dominance of Islam, one has to understand the world as it was then, celestial powers were so much involved in human affairs so much such that losing war was almost an indictment on the attendant god. What I can tell you is Islam is shrouded in a lot of mystery and this book doesn’t answer questions such as did Mo live or when was the Koran written and so on but one sees briefly into the world as it was then. And to those Muslims who are fighting Jews, remember you owe a lot to the Jews, Zoroastrians and other ancient religions for the content of your religion.

The second good news is am really excited. I had started reading Dante’s Divine Comedy a while back and didn’t get to finish but now I am ready to finish it.

The bad news is that I have no bad news.