Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam's Obscure Origins
It's really well researched, and the author makes really good points that make you think a lot.
Care to elaborate? The title sounds sensational.
It is quite sensational. But he provides good evidence and arguments regarding the lack of early source material on the prophet of Islam. He also organizes it quite well.
He mentions for example, that the Hadith narrations may have been influenced by imperial sectarianism among the early Arab empires, which essentially led them to concoct innumerable legendary material about the prophet. By the time Bukhari
came around, fabricated hadith traditions had already proliferated throughout the empire. Bukhari's own story illustrates this point, since he is said to have sifted through 300,000 such hadith, and only considered a mere 2,000 as authentic.
He also postulates that some Hadith were invented to give legitimacy to the rule of certain dynasties, and to denigrate the legitimacy of others, by putting words into the prophet's mouth. e.g., 'the family of x is blessed by Allah, and his progeny shall rule over great kingdoms'
That's just one example. He also notes the contradiction in the story of the meeting between Caliph Omar and Patriarch St. Sophronius between the Islamic and Christian stories. Sophronius seems puzzled at Omar and the Muslims' intentions in the Christian narrative, "Why do they hate us?" but Omar seems quite clear on why he conquered the Holy Land in the Islamic narrative.