The Venture of Islam has been honored as a magisterial work of the mind since its publication in early 1975. In this three-volume study, illustrated with charts and maps, Hodgson traces and interprets the historical development of Islamic civilization from before the birth of Muhammad to the middle of the twentieth century. This work grew out of the famous course on Islamic civilization that Hodgson created and taught for many years at the University of Chicago.
In this concluding volume of The Venture of Islam, Hodgson describes the second flowering of Islam: the Safavi, Timuri, and Ottoman empires. The final part of the volume analyzes the widespread Islamic heritage in today’s world.
“This is a nonpareil work, not only because of its command of its subject but also because it demonstrates how, ideally, history should be written.”—The New Yorker
The Venture of Islam, Volume 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times
3 thoughts on “The Venture of Islam, Volume 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times”
This is an extremely intricate and thus difficult book to truly internalize and comprehend in its totality.. not because it is not well written and clear. It is. However, the history or histories from the 15th century forward of Islamic society are themselves complex and intertwined so that in reading one must often step back to incorporate accurately Hodgeson’s astoundingly detailed and broad vision of the period from the l5th century forward. Other books on the same subject and period are by comparison merely ghostly, monodimensional versions of Hodgeson’s Ventures of Islam. This is the book or series of books to read on Islam in history.
Rating: 5 / 5
Given that there are already two excellent reviews on this book, I will only add that, for a better understanding of Islam (neither flattering nor biased against it), I would suggest reading the following works, it is worth it:
A) ASSESSMENTS OF ISLAM: 1) The best, impartial, wise: “Islam. History, present, future” by Hans Küng . 2) Moderate Islam at its best: “The Great Theft : Wrestling Islam from the Extremists” by Khaled M. Abou El Fadl; and 3) Harsh but well argued: “Muslims in the West: Redefining the Separation of Church & State” by Sami Awad Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh;
B) WOMEN AND ISLAM. 4) A good reference book: “Women In Islam: An Anthology From The Qu’ran And Hadiths” by Nicholas Awde; and 5) Autobiography of a courageous woman: “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is a controversial thinker with a very interesting life.
C) HISTORY: 6) Turks: “The Turks in World History” by Carter Vaughn Findley; 7) Political theory: “God’s Rule : Government and Islam” by Patricia Crone; and 8) Jihad: Understanding Jihad” by David Cook.
Rating: 5 / 5
This review really applies to all three volumes. Hodgson’s work is not for those new to Islamic studies, and his writing style is complex. Few are the sentences that lack at least one subjunctive clause. But his adoption of key Arabic terms in his narrative; his broad geographic sweep, from Andalusia and the Sahel through Nile and Oxus to India and Indonesia; and his comprehensive consideration of political, social, religious, cultural, and economic aspects of civilization make for a series as broad and deep as this student of history could want. It took me several years to read the whole set, as only recently did I have enough interest in the artistic and philisophic (falsafah) traditions.
Rating: 5 / 5