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 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.
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A stunning blockbuster -- Robert Fisk Independent A compelling detective story of the highest order, In the Shadow of the Sword is also a dazzlingly colourful journey into the world of late antiquity. Every bit as thrilling a narrative history as Holland's previous works, [it] is also a profoundly important book -- Christopher Hart Sunday Times Written with flamboyant elegance and energetic intensity, Holland delivers a brilliant tour de force of revisionist scholarship and thrilling storytelling with a bloodspattered cast of swashbuckling tyrants, nymphomaniacal empresses and visionary prophets ... Unputdownable -- Simon Sebag Montefiore The Times