As an atheist bought up as an anglican I was very much in the dark about Islam generally, though I do have some muslim friends. I found this book generally informative about Islam and the prophet. The book takes a while to get into Muhammad's life, the second chapter starts with the prophet's first vision, but then doesn't mention anything about the prophet's life after that, this occurs several times in the first few chapters. So prepare yourself for a lot of background and a lot of Islamic theology/philosophy at the start. Having said that the beginning of the book lays some very important groundwork for understanding what Muhammad was trying (and succeeding) to acheive, which is essential for the newcommer to the subject. I read this book as I wanted to find out about the Caliphate and thought it would be good background reading, which it was, but now I'll probably read more of Karen Armstrong's other books as well. She's such an informative writer, knows her subject inside out and is totally non-judgemental, leaving the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. If you buy this book you won't be disappointed.