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  • In the Shadow of the Sword

  • The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
  • By: Tom Holland
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (102 ratings)

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In the Shadow of the Sword

By: Tom Holland
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
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Publisher's Summary

In the 6th century AD, the Near East was divided between two venerable empires: the Persian and the Roman. A hundred years on and one had vanished forever, while the other seemed almost finished. Ruling in their place were the Arabs: an upheaval so profound that it spelt, in effect, the end of the ancient world. In The Shadow of the Sword, Tom Holland explores how this came about. Spanning from Constantinople to the Arabian desert, and starring some of the most remarkable rulers who ever lived, he tells a story vivid with drama, horror, and startling achievement.

©2012 Tom Holland (P)2012 Hachette Digital
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"An unequivocal argument for the relevance of ancient history . . . Holland never strains for modern references; they are implicit in the stories he tells with such scholarship and flair.” (Geraldine Bedell, Observer)
“Brings this tumultuous, epoch-making period dazzlingly to life.” (William Napier, Independent on Sunday)
“Tom Holland has a rare eye for the detail, drama and the telling anecdote . . . A vibrant, bloodthirsty history, told with a rich sense of irony and irresistible narrative timing” (Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph)

What listeners say about In the Shadow of the Sword

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

He needs to site more sources

I loved the way this flowed like a fictional narrative but I wished he would site more sources as the story went along. I would like to know the material he was basing some of his conclusions.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More religion than warfare

This is a great listen if you're interested in the religious wrestle during the ancient times but I found the description of the book a tad misleading. Still interesting but yeah wasn't quite what I was hoping/expecting.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Filling the gaps in my history knowledge

I can't believe how rich with details and how well read this book is.

My only hope is that Tim doesn't become the next Salman Rushdie.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Writer

Wow. Tom Holland can really write well. I was struck so much by how the Roman, Sassanian and Arab stories could be woven into a cohesive narrative.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Tremendous

from truly ancient Zoroaster to the not so ancient Mohammad, this volume is so fantastically informative

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

why use 3 words when 40 will do?

The language is so flowery and convoluted. I found it difficult to recall facts because of this .

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Sad to Get to the End

This was such an intriguing text. I actually felt a sense of loss when the ending came around. Good exploration of the historical details that are difficult to find sources for.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Written in the style of the King James Bible.

The story, the narrator are excellent. But the prose style is so purple that lucidity and continuity are lost. It got to the stage that I had difficulty knowing when an ancient biblical or koranic quotation had stopped and we were back to the story. Probably a great read but, for me, an exhausting and impenetrable listen.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poorly constructed

I like Tom Holland, but I was disappointed. It felt more like a series of unrelated essays jammed together, rather than a cohesive book. Can not recommend.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ADS
  • 23-10-2021

Worth the effort

Actually quite a challenge to listen through the first few chapters and it can be tempting to quit, but once Tom hits his stride after that he doesn’t look back and weaves an intriguing account of the development of new civilisation. Impeccably narrated (as always) by the best in the business, Jonathan Keeble

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