The study of early Islamic historical tradition has flourished with the emergence of a new and innovative scholarship no longer dependent on more traditional narratival approaches. Chase Robinson's book, which takes full account of the research available, interweaves history and historiography to interpret the political, social and economic transformations in the Mesopotamian region after the Islamic conquests. Using Arabic and Syriac sources to elaborate his argument, the author focuses on the Muslim and Christian elites, demonstrating that the immediate effects of the conquests were in fact modest ones. Significant social change took place only at the end of the seventh century with the imposition of Marwanid rule. Even then, the author argues, social power was diffused in the hands of local elites. This is a sophisticated study at the cutting edge of a burgeoning field in Islamic studies.

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