The Rise of Islam
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This month we feature the cover of Chris Powling's latest title, Where the Quaggy Bends (see Authorgraph). The book is published in July by HarperCollins (0 00 185417 8, £7.99; 0 00 674087 1, £3.50 pbk) and we are grateful to them for their help in using this illustration.
Any concise introduction to an historical topic runs the risk of becoming either a mere inventory of names, dates and events or so pared down that the result is a disjointed mix of the relevant facts. Avoiding both pitfalls, Peter Chrisp has succeeded in compressing a thousands years of history - from the founding of the first Muslim community at Medina in 622 AD to the vast Ottoman Empire of the sixteenth century - into a narrative which is informative, interesting and comprehensible. In lively, incisive prose ('In the century after Muhammad's death, the Arab armies burst out of the desert and conquered an empire stretching from India to Spain') he charts the rise and development of Islam through conquest, trade and missionary activity into one of the most influential religions in the world. Information about Muslim beliefs and Islamic culture is skilfully interwoven into the historical tapestry, whilst the final chapter focuses on achievements in science, mathematics, medicine and technology. Original source material in 'evidence boxes' further enhances the text as do the useful maps and well-captioned illustrations.