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In the Shadow of the Sword

The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
Written by: Tom Holland
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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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

What the critics say

"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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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An amazing look at the end of the ancient world

An epic as well told and fascinating as any modern story, no matter how fantastical.

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Good history audiobook.

I like this book because you are able to imagine how Islamic writing and history was made up by their religious people. I highly recommend this book. A+++++

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  • Barry J. Crompton
  • 2012-09-22

Another great book from Tom Holland

What did you love best about In the Shadow of the Sword?

I've read and listened to four of Tom Holland's books, he has the ability to capture a lot of historical fact and put into a way of making it understandable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • BK
  • 2019-01-07

Excellent overview of the ending of late antiquity

The narrator is great, and the amount of information in this book is staggering. That said, I found it far too long, especially compared to Rubicon. That's to be expected, as the topic is so much larger, but I still struggled to finish this book. The highlight for me was all the information on Sassanids and white huns etc. Recommended for history buffs.

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  • Mr Oluwasegun Olatunde Bewaji
  • 2018-07-20

Extremely Good, Informative and Eye Opening Read

An essential must read for anyone trying to truly understand today's geopolitics and social turmoil

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  • Rick
  • 2017-10-13

Captivating and informative

The author and the narrator cooperate to tell the story of the march of religion and culture through the end of late antiquity in a way that often has the feel of a rollicking adventure.

Though the information content is dense, it comes at the reader with the pace of a good story, and the picture it paints is illuminating and satisfying.

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  • Charles
  • 2015-01-06

Great history

Yet another fantastic book from Tom Holland. Yet more history is made interesting and accessible. The performance is also great.