One in a series of beginning explanations of history, religion, and the environment. ""The three most widely-spread religions of the modern world. . .were born within 1400 kilometres of each other."" The common denominators of and differences among Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are explained through a historical approach. Topics include the life of Muhammad, the Koran, and the age of conquest, in which the force and breadth of the Muslim empire are traced through the Caliphs and Crusades. Sections on the skills of the Muslims with architecture, fabrics, pottery, and rugs are colorful, with a definite Arabic flair to the illustrations. But the book has its weaknesses--the first map has no time key, and, like subsequent maps, omits naming either Palestine or Israel. Also puzzling is the attention to minute detail on scientific achievements in Islam, winding down the book limply with four pages about water clocks and astrolabes. Textlike, this will be most useful for reference work.