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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author and renowned religious scholar Karen Armstrong presents a concise and articulate history of Islam, the world's fastest-growing faith. Beginning with the Prophet Muhammad's flight from Medina and concluding with an examination of modern Islamic practices and concerns, Armstrong delivers an unbiased overview. She contends that no religion is more feared and misunderstood by the Western world as Islam, and firmly challenges the notion that these two civilizations are on a collision course.
©2002 Karen Armstrong; (P)Recorded Books, LLC

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  • Overall

Typical Armstrong - Always Good

One of the pre-eminent religious historians, perhaps the only writer who deserves that title, Armstrong provides a brief and concise history of Islam. Regretably does not yet have her "Jerusalem" or other works (other than the excellent brief histor of The Buddha which is available). The fact that this is a "short history" in no way suggests it is historically incorrect or incomplete. Considering all of the trash about Islam published after 9-11 this book tells a simple and history of Islam which is *historically* correct. In many ways she walks in the footsteps of Barbara Tuchman, an historian to was concerned with the facts and in telling them in an interesting way. An excellent audio book and well narrated. And no I'm not a Moslem. I admire good and accurate history without all the political prejudice which seems popular with the current "history" being written. If fables and political viewpoints are your idea of "history" look elsewhere.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Read the Book, pass on the audible!

The book is an excellent book. I have read several of Karen Armstrong's books and find them important in today's happenings. However the narrator is dreadful! He is dull and annoying! I agree with others, he has mangled pronounciation of names and terms and it is very difficult to listen to the book, knowing the correct pronounciation. It took me awhile to figure out he was talking about the Shia's when he was saying, "Shure-RIa" and "Shure-ease" Read the book and ask the publisher to get another reader to do the book justice.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alan
  • Petaluma, CA, United States
  • 01-20-06

terrible narrator for this excellent book

an excellent book~~all Karen Armstrong books are important vital reads in todays world. however the narrator is worse than bad. If it was just his dull reading, well alright, listen if you must, but his mangled prononciation of names and terms grates.
read the book. Better, ask the publisher to get another reader

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ammar
  • APO, AE, USA
  • 07-16-05

Well done!

This review is of the paper edition.

A well written history that will explain plenty to someone who wants to know more about Islamic history. This is not an in-depth study but an easy read. I only wish more Muslims would read it, I think the book would be an eye opener for them too.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Armstrong's Islam

Armstrong's picture of Islam is illuminating and insightful. Her discussion of fundamentalism in general is valuable.
Unfortunately, the recording suffers from a reader who didn't bother to learn to pronounce either the Arabic or the religious vocabulary. Apart from that annoyance, I would give the book five stars.

S. Treloar, M Div

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Good overview but a lot of history

I had previously read the Qur'an and I wanted a book to better understand Islam. What I learned was that the history of Islam is really complicated. There were more dates and places than I could keep track of, such that for much of it I felt I was listening to a textbook. Still, it provides a good overview in a relatively short amount of time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Clay
  • Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • 08-17-05

Pronunciation Problems Ruin a Well-Written Book

This audiobook's merits are unfortunately lost in the absolutely horrible pronunciation of the many Arabic words and names that necessarily occur throughout the text. The narrator seems to be completely unfamiliar with the language, at one point even badly mispronouncing the name "Hussein" (which by now even the most linguistically challenged of us knows)!
This audiobook selection badly needs rerecording by either an Arabic speaker, or at least someone who has spent a few minutes going over the names with an Arabic speaker.

18 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark Adams
  • Redwood Estates, CA United States
  • 02-18-07

Somewhat apologetic

Karen Armstrong's history of Islam reads like a fairy tale, and that's the problem. One senses that the Islam she presents is not the one readily accepted by most Muslims. Often speaking of the original spirit or intent of the religion, Armstrong leaves this reader/listener is left wondering how she knows what runs contrary to early Islamic belief or what complements the original spirit of Islam. It would have been nice to have the book before me, but it does not appear that she allows the sources to speak for themselves. Instead, the reader/listener is confronted with a series of generalizations and overstatements, particularly concerning Mohammed.

The apologetic tone of the book is frustrating. If Muslims are attacked, they are victims. If Muslims make war, they felt threatened. Not that the author defends aggression by any group, but she seems to slant history in favor of Muslims. Some of her assertions about Mohammed are extraordinary, particularly that he "single-handedly" ended the system of reprisals and vendettas in Arabia (Mohammed led reprisals and vendettas! and they seem to continue after his death).

She frames the story of Islam in the context of modernity, which is interesting and worth examining more closely. She sees the conflict between the West and Islam as being one between a modern society and an agrarian culture unable to keep pace.

The overall thesis of her book, that Islam is not an inherently intolerant religion, is, however, compelling. Islam is often presented as a wholly intolerant religion--which may be true in very many instances, but not comprehensively.

It would be interesting to read a Muslim response to her many assertions. (I don't know what religious persuasion Armstrong is, but she appears to be very liberal.)

10 of 18 people found this review helpful

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excellent reading

loved it. this book offers a great insight into current world chaos. highly recommended

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great history, tying it to current day lives

wonderfully covered history from the perspective of both Muslims and non Muslims. lessons derived and applied to the lives of today. some are companies about the pronunciation but I thought they were clear and totally fine. great listen. very insightful.