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The Venture of Islam, Volume 1: The Classical Age of Islam Paperback – February 15, 1977


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The Venture of Islam, Volume 1: The Classical Age of Islam + The Venture of Islam, Volume 2: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods + The Venture of Islam, Volume 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times (Venture of Islam Vol. 3)
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Product Details

  • Series: Venture of Islam (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 539 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (February 15, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226346838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226346830
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Netman1 on October 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
This review pertains to all three volumes in the Venture of Islam series.

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.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By K. S. Roelandts on May 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I originally read volume 1 and 2 for an upper division history course in university and the effect these books had on me is profound.

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.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on October 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
When surveys of Islam are mentioned, Hodgson's three volume work is the most formidable of the three often mentioned-the other two being either that of Lapidus or Hourani (although Hourani's history is limited to Arab history only). This first volume focuses on Hodgson's justifications for his own idiosyncratic preferences which he obviously aspired to be broadly accepted in the field as well as writing the early history of Islam through the absolutist tradition of the Abbasid dynasty. His awkward terminology has in general not been adopted although his insistence on rigor and uniformity in the transliteration of Islamic languages has become standard, and the general outlines of the history that he presents have stood the test of time. Most may leave this book behind, being bogged down in the first hundred or so pages of caveats and academic hair-splitting; however, those who persevere onwards will find the going gets better when the actual history begins wherein the analysis and information conveyed are generally profound.
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.
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