8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2010
Robert Hoyland provides a methodical description of the tribal groups that made up arabia (the arabian peninsular, Jordan and eastern Syria)covering their politics, religion, economy and social structure from c.3000BC to 600AD. Hoyland's problem is that he must work from a very limited historical record of these people and they never quite came to life for me, in spite of his use of contemporary and near contemporary sources. You also need a thorough knowledge of the more well known local civilisations of the period (which I don't have). Without the historical context, the book seems at times merely to be a list of kings. In short, very informative but not a stirring narrative.