3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
A very good introduction to the history of Islam, 31 Oct. 2003
Armstrong's book not only offers a good and detailed overview, but also provides us with a sound and well-balanced historical argument. The style is easy to read and the author's un-dogmatic approach very appealing. The book obviously not only considers the history of Islam, but also that of the Islamic world and its political settings. Although some passages are rather traditional in approach, fixing very much on names and dates, which after 40 pages might spin around your head, the book nonetheless never loses its focus: Islam. Indeed, its greatest strength lies precisely in connecting the religious and spiritual developments of this world religion to the political and socio-economical circumstances. The book manages especially well with destroying our sometimes rather simplified views of Islam, presenting the different spiritual movements and tendencies that Islamic culture developed over the last 1300 years. It clearly shows that there has always been far more then just Islamic fundamentalism. Another good point is the well-illustrated relation between Western Europe and the Islamic World. In fact the last 30 pages, which almost over-ambitiously try to condense the past 200 years, actually grasp the problematic directly at its roots providing once more a clear and concise description. The book is nothing more than it pretends: a short history of Islam, but I would strongly recommend it to everyone who is looking for a good introduction or overview of the topic.