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Muhammad: Islam's First Great General (Campaigns and Commanders) Hardcover – September 14, 2007


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Muhammad: Islam's First Great General (Campaigns and Commanders) + The Generalship of Muhammad: Battles and Campaigns of the Prophet of Allah
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Product Details

  • Series: Campaigns and Commanders
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (September 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806138602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806138602
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gabriel argues that neither the faith nor the prophet would have survived had Muhammad not been an innovative and effective soldier. Though his arms training was rudimentary, Muhammad fought 8 major battles, led 18 raids, and planned 38 other major operations, transforming war in the Arab world. Before Muhammad, Arabian society was based on family and clan. The most common form of fighting was grab-and-run raiding seldom entailing severe bloodshed. There was also the blood feud, usually settled short of massacre. Muhammad's followers were to be loyal not to clan and kin but to the ummah, the community of the faithful. When fighting those not of the ummah, they were to use the tactics of the blood feud. So doing, they birthed a reputation for ferocity. Gabriel depicts Muhammad's military undertakings concisely and discretely, begging the question of how the general can be discriminated from the prophet. Muhammad broke and reshaped military and civil society in his world, a feat impossible to have done without the faith of his followers. Murray, Frieda

About the Author

Richard A. Gabriel, a historian, is Adjunct Professor of Humanities and Ethics at Daniel Webster College. He is the author of forty books, including The Great Battles of Antiquity, The Great Armies of Antiquity, and Great Captains of Antiquity.

Customer Reviews

Sadly, I had to return the book...
JD2010/2011
Nevertheless, if you're very interested in Muhammad or in military history, this is a good book.
David W. Nicholas
In addition, I found Mr.Gabriel's analysis somewhat up and down.
Munawar Ali

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on August 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a scholarly attempt to look at the life of Muhammad, the founder of the religion of Islam, in a whole new light. The author intends to examine his military accomplishments, and freely admits his lack of qualifications with regards to the religious aspects of the Prophet's life. Those military accomplishments were considerable, and the ensuing discussion of the Prophet's life, through his military exploits, is interesting.

The author begins with an overview of Arab warfare prior to Muhammad's epiphany. He spends several chapters outlining Arab politics at the time, and is especially careful to discuss military organization, tactics, and strategy, as much as he can. One difficulty is that during this era, warfare tended to be of the follow-the-leader variety, with little in the way of formal military organization, no standardization of weapons or equipment, no uniforms, no real organized units with a formal chain of command, pay structures, ranks, and that sort of thing. All of that, more or less, existed during the Roman or other ancient periods, but wouldn't re-emerge until towards the end of the Middle Ages. Instead, Arab warfare was essentially tribal, low-intensity warfare, rather like what the American Indians or African tribesmen practiced in later eras. Wars went on constantly between neighboring tribes, but could go on for years with ritualized battles and campaigns in which few, if any, warriors were killed. Instead, the tribes relied on these "wars" to provide opportunities for warriors to exhibit their bravery, and as an aside, they raided their neighbors, stealing livestock and women.

Muhammad, rather like Shaka Zulu, changed the way warfare was conducted.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Muhammad: Islam's First Great General is not a typical biography Muhammad, prophet and founder of the religion of Islam. Military historian and retired U.S. Army officer Richard A. Gabriel presents a close examination of Muhammad as a military genius, who introduced innovations that would transform armies and warfare throughout the Arab world. With a keen eye upon the connections between social, economic, and cultural environment in which Muhammad lived and the religion he founded to Muhammad's military achievements, Muhammad: Islam's First Great General is an exceptional chronicle of how a brand-new religious movement survived its tumultuous birth through eight major battles, eighteen raids, and thirty-eight other military operations in its first ten years alone. Also covered is Muhammad's masterful application of nonmilitary methods including bribery, alliance building, and political assassination, to fortify his long-term position and goals, even at the expense of short-term military objectives. Muhammad: Islam's First Great General reveals how Muhammad's talents and inspirations enabled his successors to defeat the armies of Persia and Byzantium, and establish the foundations of the Islamic empire, and is a singularly fascinating study of historical warfare and leadership. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By alan j. greczynski on January 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gabriel gives a "tour de force" in the understanding of Islam from a military historian point of view. Gabriel excels at understanding the military aspect behind the great prophets. His "Battles of the Bible" DVD was outstanding. I hope he continues in this. Since the Vietnam War we have tried to study history with a "Kumbaya" view. Humans are nasty beasts and Gabriel pulls no punches.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John French on November 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Professor Gabriel provides an insight into Mohammad as not seen too often. A military thinker in the vein of insurgents who would follow in centuries to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Garrison Jr. VINE VOICE on January 4, 2009
Verified Purchase
What is nice about this book is that the author brings together his military analysis of all of the jihad battles that the Islamic prophet Muhammad led as he attempted to impose his newly revealed religion of Islam upon his disbelieving neighbors. The author also notes the events when Muhammad instigated the assassination of some of those who doubted his religious credentials as being Allah's "prophet." The author's detailing of the fine minutiae as to how the various armies fed, clothed and armed their soldiers at times can be a little mind numbing in the early chapters, but it does add to one's understanding about the military tactics that were implemented before or during the battles. Being a retired army officer myself, I recognize that this military-educated author presents very sound explanations of battlefield tactics in his book, if the historical accounts can be believed. While the author subtitled his book as: "Islam's First Great General", after reading this book, and given the several near defeats of Muhammad, one realizes that Muhammad wasn't so much of a "great" general as his opponents were more incompetent. Essentially, Muhammad got really lucky from not being either killed or captured on a number of occasions while out on the battlefield; undoubtedly because Allah was over watching, goading on and blessing his "final" prophet to victory over the infidels. But what really is a break though with this book is that the author does not attempt to apologize for Muhammad's military conquests as being engaged in only for the "defense" of Islam.Read more ›
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