In the 6th century AD, the Near East was divided between two great empires: the Persian and the Roman. A hundred years on, one had vanished forever, while the other was a dismembered, bleeding trunk. In their place, a new superpower had arisen: the empire of the Arabs.
In The Shadow of the Sword, Tom Holland explores how this came about; and how, as empires rose and fell, a succession of great religions took on the forms they still wear today. Read more