Tracing the social and political changes experienced during the transition from pre-Islamic Arabian culture to the religious civilization of Islam, Firestone concludes that jihad is an indigenous Arabian phenomenon. It resulted, he argues, from the mixture of old Arabian culture with innovations in the traditional social structure and worldview engendered by the introduction of Islamic monotheism. The cauldron in which this mixture produced its new product was Medina, where various forces came together to produce the religious community of Muslims known as the Umma.. 'Firestone's historical reconstruction of Islamic holy war challenges the traditional 'evolutionary theory' of war that was first established by medieval Muslim scholars and subsequently accepted uncritically by Western scholarship. In its place, he offers a far more nuanced understanding, based on careful philological analysis of Islamic texts in conjunction with the application of contemporary methodologies in anthropology, history, and the study of religion. The result is a text that will be of interest to students of religion, ethics, history, the ancient and modern Middle East, anthropology, Islam, the Bible, and the medieval world.