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The Crucible of Islam

The Crucible of Islam

G. W. Bowersock

ISBN 9780674237728

Publication date: 05/20/2019

Little is known about Arabia in the sixth century, yet from this distant time and place emerged a faith and an empire that stretched from the Iberian peninsula to India. Today, Muslims account for nearly a quarter of the global population. A renowned classicist, G. W. Bowersock seeks to illuminate this obscure and dynamic period in the history of Islam—exploring why arid Arabia proved to be such fertile ground for Muhammad’s prophetic message, and why that message spread so quickly to the wider world. The Crucible of Islam offers a compelling explanation of how one of the world’s great religions took shape.

“A remarkable work of scholarship.”
Wall Street Journal

“A little book of explosive originality and penetrating judgment… The joy of reading this account of the background and emergence of early Islam is the knowledge that Bowersock has built it from solid stones… A masterpiece of the historian’s craft.”
—Peter Brown, New York Review of Books


  • The Crucible of Islam is a remarkable work of scholarship.

    —Christopher Carroll, Wall Street Journal


  • G. W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Book Details

  • 240 pages
  • 4-3/8 x 7-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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