A Review of ‘The War of the Three Gods: Romans, Persians and the Rise of Islam’ by Peter Crawford

I’ve been on a Byzantine-era nonfiction kick lately. By random chance I saw this book was on sale online, so I decided to pick this up.

This nonfiction book is a history of the near east/middle east during the Late Roman/Early Byzantine era. This book begins by covering the conflict between the Emperor Heraclius of Rome (aka Christendom) and the Sassanid Empire (aka Zoroastrianism). Shortly after their war, the Khalif (Islam) invades from the south, putting a thorn in the side of the two weakened great powers.

I really liked this nonfiction book. The author did a good job of explaining how the conditions on the ground at the time contributed to the rise of Islam.

  • The Christian empire and the Zoroastrian empire weakened one another with a prolonged war over modern day Syria and Iraq.
  • An epidemic swept through the major cities of both the Roman and Sassanid Empires
  • Poor leadership from the Christians and Zoroastrians, and excellent leadership from the Muslims, also played a role.

These three facts contributed to that crux of history. The Zoroastrian empire (which had survived for thousands of years up until that point) was wiped out because of this moment in history. The Roman Christian empire in the east was also threatened, and nearly destroyed.

This was one of the major moments in human history. Had events played out even slightly differently Islam might not be a major world religion, and perhaps Zoroastrianism would still be one of the major world religions.

This book is a book on military strategic history combined with one about geo-political history. It doesn’t go deep into the religious traditions of the three powers, which I think is a shame. I would have liked if the author discussed the culture clash of the three powers as they begin bumping into one another.

STARS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 STARS (5 Stars=Perfect, 4 Stars=Great, 3 Stars=Good, 2 Stars=Fun but Flawed, 1 Star=Not Recommended)

Overall Rating: Recommended (How I Rate Books)


Genres/Tagwords: Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity, Rome, Byzantium, History BOok, Nonfiction

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:


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