Today's Arab world was created at breathtaking speed. In just over one hundred years following the death of Mohammed in 632, Arabs had subjugated a territory with an east-west expanse greater than the Roman Empire, and they did it in about one-half the time. By the mid-eighth century, Arab armies had conquered the thousand-year-old Persian Empire, reduced the Byzantine Empire to little more than a city-state based around Constantinople, and destroyed the Visigoth kingdom of Spain. The cultural and linguistic effects of this early Islamic expansion reverberate today. This is the first popular English-language account in many years of this astonishing remaking of the political and religious map of the world. Hugh Kennedy's sweeping narrative reveals how the Arab armies conquered almost everything in their path, and brings to light the unique characteristics of Islamic rule. One of the few academic historians with a genuine talent for story telling, Kennedy offers a compelling mix of larger-than-life characters, fierce battles, and the great clash of civilizations and religions.