Definitive and insightful, in this richly layered and engrossing account, John McHugo reveals how the great divide in Islam occurred. Charting the story of Islam from the death of the Prophet Muhammad to the present day, he describes the conflicts that raged over the succession to the Prophet, how Sunnism and Shi'ism evolved as different sects during the Abbasid caliphate, and how the rivalry between the empires of the Sunni Ottomans and Shi'i Safavids contrived to ensure that the split would continue into modern times. Now its full, destructive force has been brought out by the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for the soul of the Muslim world.
The key to understanding the Arab world today is unlocking its past. In this authoritative account, John McHugo takes the reader through the political, social and intellectual history of the Arabs from the Roman Empire right up to the present day. Going beyond the headlines, he describes in vivid detail a series of key turning points in Arab history - from the mission of the Prophet Muhammad and the expansion of Islam to the region's interaction with Western ideas and the rise of Islamism. Now fully updated to cover the tumultuous years since the Arab Spring, this lucidly told history reveals how the Arab world came to have its present form and illuminates the choices that lie ahead.
Syria's descent into civil war has already claimed an estimated 200,000 lives while more than nine million people have fled their homes. This is now the greatest humanitarian and political crisis of the twenty-first century. In this timely account, John McHugo charts the history of Syria from the First World War to the present and considers why Syria's foundations as a nation have proved so fragile. He examines the country's thwarted attempts at independence under French rule before turning to more recent events: religious and sectarian tensions that have riven Syria, the pressures of international conflicts, two generations of rule by the Assads and the rise of ISIS. As the conflict in Syria rages on, McHugo provides a rare and authoritative guide to a complex nation that demands our attention.