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The Venture of Islam, Volume 1: The Classical Age of Islam Paperback – February 15, 1977
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Hogdson set himself a rather bold and difficult task: (1) to tell the story of Islam from its foundation until the mid 20th Century (2) to deal with all the lands of Islam and not just the Arabs, the Turks or the Persians (so his account does not suffer from specious generalization from one geographic area or major ethnic group to the whole) and (3) to write a comprehensive history - political, social, intellectual (to give a complete account of Islam).
By and large, Hodgson achieved his vision. The scope of his scholarship and range of his intellect is truly impressive. The work provides a very thought provoking account of the development of the Islamic world.
There are four particularly noteworthy aspects to his work:
(1) The book (like McNeill's "Rise of the West") does not address its topic in isolation, but rather shows how the major citied civilizations of the world influenced one another. This is one of the strengths of the book - placing Islam squarely within the currents of world history.
(2) This is an original, not derivative, work. It is based on an analysis of primary sources (accounts from the period he is studying) rather than a repetition of the conclusions of later Muslim or Western scholars. This results in several refreshing challenges to common "wisdom" on Islamic history.
(3) His analysis of the nature of agrarianate civilization is useful not only for understanding the development of Islam but of other civilizations as well. His discussion in Book 3 about the rise of the West and the fundamental shift from agrarian to modern technical society is particularly thought provoking.Read more ›
This is THE survey book on Islamic civilization and history. There are several other worthwhile survey books on the topic (especially Lapidus), but this is the master work in the field. This is where you should start.
It is sad, but true to say that the 3rd volume is not as good as the first two volumes. This is due to the fact that Hodgson passed away before he could finish it, and it was completed by his friends in the academic community. That being said, Volumes 1 and 2 are masterpeices!
Everything you ever wanted to know about Islmaic history is here in as much detail as can possibly be done in a survey work. If you want more detail, you should read books that delve into specific topics in more detail (i.e. The Assassins, the Abbasid Caliphate, Pax-Mongolia, The Saljuks, The Gunpowder Empires, Adib court culture, etc.), but for an all-emcompassing work on Islamic history, culture, and society, from pre-Islamic pegan times in the Arabian peninsula all the way to the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Volumes 1 and 2 are THE MUST HAVE books on the subject. No library on Islamic History is complete without these two.
Hodgson himself has become a psudo-legend in academic circles because of this work. His obsession with detail, exhibited in this work, reminds me of J. R. R. Tolkin and his imagined "Lord of the Rings" histories except that Hodgson's work is the real thing! Venture of Islam has influenced writers outside Academic circles such has Frank Herbert's Science Fiction masterpeice "Dune.Read more ›
Throughout Hodgson's rather phlegmatic march through the history of the central Islamic lands (being Muslim Spain, North Africa, and the lands from the Nile to the Oxus River), there is undoubtedly a dusty quality to his work that shows his methodology to be at least a generation behind the times. It is evident that he was influenced strong by the rise and fall of civilizations world history of the likes of Toynbee, and there is some indication that were it not for his untimely death that he would have wished to write just such a history.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent, well researched book with unique perspective on Islamicate culture. Very important for understanding the culture we face today.Published 15 months ago by M. Diamond
The first 15% of the book is devoted to explaining why he has to insert special characters into otherwise English words (written in the Latin alphabet) so that, if you can read... Read morePublished on June 13, 2013 by manatee
There is little to add in terms of praise for such an exacting and thorough exploration of Islam, and this is only the first of a three volume set. Read morePublished on January 22, 2013 by mike gurski
I wanted an overview of the history of Islam. This book was a mistake. It is filled with academic jibberish that is unbelievable. Read morePublished on February 7, 2012 by Bernie41
Hodgson's work has influenced much of American scholarship on the Middle East since the 1960s, and that influence is still going strong.Published on May 27, 2011 by rs
After reading Mr. Netman's excellent review, I will only add that, for a better understanding of Islam (neither flattering nor biased against it), I would suggest reading the... Read morePublished on October 4, 2008 by César González Rouco
Hodgson covers the first few hundred years of Islamic history in this volume. He does not aim to tell about everything that happened, only give us a broad look at the period. Read morePublished on July 2, 2006 by Severin Olson
Since you're reading about this book, I assume you're interested in a scholarly work, as opposed to "Idiot's Guide" or "___ for Dummies" style. Read morePublished on April 26, 2006 by Amazon Customer
I bought the 3 volume series of Marshall Hodgson's series on Islamic History after having heard about it in a conference. I count myself lucky that i have it with me. Read morePublished on September 29, 2005 by Amazon Customer