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The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century (A History of the Near East) Paperback – 22 Jan 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (22 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582405254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582405257
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 569,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

 "comprehensive and readable"Asian Affairs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The Near East and Islamic society have never been so close to the forefront of international attention. In this time of conflict the Western population is increasingly eager to increase their knowledge of the region’s past. This updated edition of Hugh Kennedy’s popular introduction to the history of the Near East is a timely aid to this quest for knowledge about the roots of Islam.

The Prophet and the Age of Caliphates

is an accessible guide to the history of the Near East from c.600-1050AD, the period in which Islamic society was formed. Beginning with the life of Muhammad and the birth of Islam, Kennedy goes on to explore the great Arab conquests of the seventh century and the golden age of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates when the world of Islam was politically and culturally far more developed than the West. A period of political fragmentation shattered this early unity, never to be recovered.

This new edition takes into account new research on early Islam and contains a fully updated bibliography. Based on extensive reading of the original Arabic sources, Kennedy breaks away from the Orientalist tradition of seeing early Islamic history as a series of ephemeral rulers and pointless battles by drawing attention to underlying long term social and economic processes.

This new edition deals with issues of continuing and increasing relevance in the twenty-first century, when it is, perhaps, more important than ever to understand the early development of the Islamic world. General readers and scholars of early Islamic history will find Kennedy’s book a clear, informative and readable introduction to the subject.

Hugh Kennedy is Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of St Andrews. Previous publications include Crusader Castles; Muslim Spain and Portugal; and Armies of the Caliphs: Military and Society in the early Islamic State.

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Format: Paperback
This work is a very useful historical survey of the major political developments that marked the classical era of Islamicate civilisation. I found it a very useful companion to other works that concentrate upon the cultural, social and intellectual aspects of Muslim history for example the works of Ira Lapidus and Marshall G Hodgson. Although it is a specialist work it has a clear narrative structure which allows for a degree of comparative analysis between the different regions covered by the study. Whilst it might be true to describe it as being a little dry and academic I consider this to be a strength and would certainly prefer it over more populist works of narrative history for example Bernard Lewis and the sensationalist revisionist accounts propounded by writers such as Patricia Crone and Wilfred Madelung. He does not seek to make reductive connections between historical effects and essential psychological or cultural causes which is refreshing and only adds to its overall authorativeness. I would recommend it to any reader who is genuinely interested in understanding the complexity of early Islamic history and its hightly contested and ideological character.
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The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates, is an attempt to chart the early history or the growth of Islam. A very interesting propostition and as relevant today as it ever has been, especially given the troubles in the middle east, this books should be of great help to anybody with an interest in this area of the world.

However it is not. While detailed, the style of writing is very dry and can be very confusing at times. Names of people and Caliph's come and go with very little to actually tell you who they are or where they come from. The success of the early Arab/Muslim armies agains all opposition is not really explained, to paraphrase, they came, they saw, they conquered and thats all we know from this work.

A decent attempt, but could have been so much more
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By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Five stars for content, two stars for readability. Densely written, colourless, but masses of factual detail which are not easy to find elsewhere. A book for specialists only, in my opinion.
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