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This review is from: In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World (Hardcover)
This is a rum mix of a book. The first two thirds relates the convulsions of power politics and religion in the Christian and Zoroastrian age. The cast of characters is fabulously weird and Holland has great fun with them. It's a rollicking good read, though some Zoroastrians might be offended by the tone, which is droll, even mocking.
Then the rise of Islam makes Holland take a much more circumspect line. (I wonder why?)
But it's pretty plain in the end that Mohammed's revelations from God were a sophomoric mash-up of ideas and faiths widely held in the Fertile Crescent. But muslims continue to insist that God chose an illiterate camel wrangler from a place noone had ever heard of to take dictation from an angel that nearly everyone had already heard of. Some glitch in the Divine Mail delivery service perhaps. I'd have preferred Holland to have been less mealy mouthed about it, because his understandable reticence makes for an uneven tone over the book as a whole.
But Holland is a master of the droll reference, the telling anecdote and the spectacular set piece. So as with his other works, this is largely an enjoyable read. And you'll be grateful you weren't there at the time.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jul 2012 17:12:43 BDT
M. H. Costeris says:
Good review. It gave me an idea about what to expect from the book. I wonder if offended Zoroastrians will riot. You are a bit hard on illiterate camel wranglers though, who surely have as much right to be a messenger from god as anyone else.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jul 2012 22:48:39 BDT
James-philip Harries says:
God works on mysterious ways and He might well choose a prophet from anywhere.
His prophet Mohammed, after the Battle of the Ditch, introduced the Arabs for the first time to the delights of executing prisoners of war.
Must ask my padre if this is kosher.
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