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Publisher's Summary

In just over a hundred years - from the death of Muhammad in 632 to the beginning of the Abbasid Caliphate in 750 - the followers of the Prophet swept across the whole of the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain. Their armies threatened states as far flung as the Franks in Western Europe and the Tang Empire in China. The conquered territory was larger than the Roman Empire at its greatest expansion, and it was claimed for the Arabs in roughly half the time. How this collection of Arabian tribes was able to engulf so many empires, states, and armies in such a short period has perplexed historians for centuries. Most accounts of the Arab invasions have been based almost solely on the early Muslim sources, which were composed centuries later to illustrate the divinely chosen status of the Arabs. Robert Hoyland's groundbreaking new history assimilates not only the rich biographical information of the early Muslim sources but also the many non-Arabic sources, contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous with the conquests.

In God's Path begins with a broad picture of the Late Antique world prior to the Prophet's arrival, a world dominated by two superpowers: Byzantium and Sasanian Persia. In between these empires, emerged a distinct Arabian identity, which helped forge the inhabitants of western Arabia into a formidable fighting force. The Arabs are the principal actors in this drama yet, as Hoyland shows, the peoples along the edges of Byzantium and Persia - the Khazars, Bulgars, Avars, and Turks - all played critical roles in the remaking of the old world order. The new faith propagated by Muhammad and his successors made it possible for many of the conquered peoples to join the Arabs in creating the first Islamic Empire.

Well-paced, comprehensive, and eminently readable, In God's Path presents a sweeping narrative of a transformational period in world history.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Was Islam spread "by the sword"?

To find out, listen to this book. Very listenable reader - a laconic American drawl with skillful Arabic pronunciation. Only drawback of the audio version is the lack of maps - for which print or ebook recommended.

This book is a valuable addition to the new Islamic origins studies. Who were the original 7th cent conquerers, and how did Islam really become a world religion?

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  • SAMA
  • 22-01-2015

Islamic conquest history from the outside

This is an interesting look at how historians view early Islamic conquests and the explanation of their effectiveness by looking at historical documents from Muslim and other historians at the time.

The reason I give it three stars is because it requires you to look at maps in the accompanying reference PDF if you wish to get the most out of this book. While this isn't a big issue if you don't care about maps or geography; it could become annoying if maps matter to you. If that's the case, skip this and get the physical copy instead.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Abdul Qayyum
  • 23-10-2015

Excellent reference

Where does In God's Path rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I rate it pretty high and top of the list of all audio books I ever listened.

I picked up a history book after a long time and having read a lot of history books on Rome, Byzantine, Persian and recent Indian history (from 12th century onward) and many from Muslim view point; I find myself in unique position to comment. In my opinion professor did an excellent job gathering up a lot of information and summing up nicely from outsider's view point. It is as unbiased commentary on the events took place between 6th and 8th century events in Arabian peninsula and neighboring regions. Also, how people jumped to the Arab identity and fall back to their ancestral roots later.

What was one of the most memorable moments of In God's Path?

It's a non fiction history book on the events that are well known, so mostly I knew what to expect.

Which scene was your favorite?

All. This book is very intense with lots of information.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. Unfortunately I couldn't but still finished it pretty quickly.

Any additional comments?

1 - Moghals in India existed till 1857 in Dehli and not 1757 when British sacked the last moghal king Bahadur Shah Zafar.

2 - There is no mention of the food items that those unique communities of 6th to 8th century consumed, as we know that Muslims strictly eat halal meat while Jewish eat Kosher meat and both don’t eat Pigs, hogs or boars etc.

Finally, this book has a lot of information in one place which is very impressive. I hope to read another book on the later events soon by this author.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt
  • 03-10-2015

Cutting edge scholarship available in audio!!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Probably the first audiobook I've heard in which the reader actually knew how to pronounce Arabic, which I greatly appreciated. Also, Robert Hoyland is really doing some pioneering work on synthesis of data on the Arab Conquests and so I am really happy to see this available on Audible and I hope more is to come!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Adnan Ahmed
  • 05-06-2016

The narrator killed this book

I was really looking forward to reading this book and decided to get it despite some of the reviews about the poor narration. The reviews were right. The narration is just awful. Complete
Snooze fest. I listened to it for 3 hours and just gave up. I'm just it's a great book to read, just not one worth listening to. Audible should have some standards about lousy narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Marc D. Mootchnik
  • 29-07-2015

A Great Premise, But Fails to Deliver

Most historical accounts of Islam are drawn from Muslim sources that fail to acknowledge or appreciate the events surrounding the Muslim conquests. The are often written through a lens that suggests conversion to Islam was based on divine enlightenment rather than as a consequence of oft-times brutal conflicts. The premise of the book is to provide a more balanced account drawing from non-Muslim sources. Unfortunately, the book is written in the style of high school history texts, embellished with a flair of hyperbole ill-suited for a non-fiction work. I am sure a great deal of research went into this book. But the writing filtered out much of the precision of the research. Instead of providing the reader sufficient facts that s/he can envision how the battles were fought, the book often merely states in conclusory fashion that battles were bloody without any description so that the reader would naturally draw that conclusion. Peter Ganim provides a complementary narration, over-dramatizing the text to an unbearable point compelling me to avoid any book narrated by him in the future.

Overall, this book provided much promise but it failed to deliver in both content and narration.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • SAPPRO - Phil
  • 08-04-2015

Might have been good

What disappointed you about In God's Path?

This is really not a review of the book as I am sure the content is interesting I just could not get past the narration, I kept going back and giving it another try but for whatever reason I just can not listen to the way it was being read. This might be me personally and have had other books that I couldn't listen to but for whatever reason I could not get past the first chapter on this one.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • J.H. Rump
  • 15-08-2018

A top-book by a top-scholar!

An "objective" historian's well-written account of the contemporary sources in many languages - a real treat for the general (and specialized) reader.

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  • Arthur Dhallin
  • 27-01-2018

Good scholarly book but dry

Lots of info but written more like a textbook with original sources. Good if you want to augment knowledge of this period but not a good starter book.

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  • Lavinia
  • 09-01-2018

Needed Visuals

Don’t know enough about these parts of the world, especially the ancient place names. Really needed to the maps, which are in the book and referred to by the reader. Family tree wouldn’t helped too.

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  • ryan
  • 03-08-2015

Maps are necessary to follow along

Well written and well read but very difficult to follow without the maps and insets provided in the paper version of this work. This is a title you would benefit from reading and not listening too.

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  • Jonathan
  • 24-01-2015

Good to read, but works poorly as an audiobook

This is an interesting book which gives a detailed account of an aspect of history that is typically glossed over. Every other book that I have read/listened to just describes the muslim conquests as very fast -- here one finds details beyond this. However this book does not transfer well to audio format. This is not because the narration is in any way deficient; rather it is the nature of the book. One really needs to refer regularly to map in parallel with the narrative -- the maps are provided as a pdf but having to look them up on the computer while listening rather defeats the purpose of an audiobook. Also there are lots of details that one would skip over while reading, especially the dates of almost every person mentioned. In an audio book these really get in the way of the narrative. Some parts of the book are more discursive and these work fine, but most is historical narrative which suffers from these various problems. Overall my advice is to read this book but not to listen to it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • thomas
  • 19-02-2016

A Fascinating Read

Once sped up to 1.25 or 1.35 the narrator becomes far more enjoyable

would recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful