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Arab Historians of the Crusades (Islamic World series)
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Top Customer Reviews
This book reads quite fast, as the excerpts for the most part are very short. The best section of the book has to be the detailed information on Saladin, the Arab general and sultan who dealt the Christians a punishing blow at Hittin in 1187, and who eventually retook Jerusalem. Lots of stories provide an interesting character study of this Islamic hero. We read about his military heroism, his religious piety, his sense of justice and honor, and his relationship with the Christians. There is the interesting story of how Saladin helped a Christian woman recover her child. The child was seized and was almost sold into slavery until Saladin intervened on her behalf and returned the child to its mother. The other sections of the book deal with the initial campaigns of the Christians during the First Crusade, such as the taking of Antioch and the legend of the Holy Lance, a ridiculous story that the Arab historians rightly perceive as total bunk. The last part of the book deals with the Egyptian campaigns of Louis IX and the eventual collapse of the Christian occupation in Palestine.
Most of these writings are pretty interesting, but there are a few drawbacks. Many of these accounts are propaganda meant to paint the Muslims in the best possible light. Also, this would be a useless review unless I mentioned the amazingly horrible writings of Imad ad-Din, who served as a close official to Saladin.Read more ›
Not only is it a great work of selection, editing and translation, but it is an enthralling read throughout. Always intersting, sometimes shocking and humourous.
An essential accompliment to anyone's book collection who is intersted in crusader history.
The main drawback is that I would not consider this a stand-alone book, particularly on a lot of the convoluted political arrangements - I'd suggest Wasserman's "Templars & the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven" for that - and I really don't think one can get the full understanding of the Muslim mentality in fighting the Crusaders from it. For that I'd suggest al-Sulami's "Way of Sufi Chivalry" (for those on a budget) or preferably Sabzawari's "Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry" (for those who aren't) to get into the mindset of the Muslim warriors. For while "Arab Historians" includes a lot personal commentary from the authors, these last two books were written as guides for the emirs and warriors, and once reading them one gets the feeling that "Arab Historians" was written by some military public relations officer.
Still a highly recommended, enjoyable read, though.
The book itself is divided into chapters or rather chunks of translation from a number of contemporary Muslim historians who wrote about significant events of the crusades. The conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, the rise of Saladin, the Seljuks of Anatolia, the battles in Palestine, the re-capture of Jerusalem and the rise of the Mamluks which resulted in the final expulsion of the Crusaders from the holy land. The translator uses not only ibn Athir but also ibn Munqidh (Also translated by Philip Hitti amongst others)
One problem with this method of translation is that in parts it can become quite confusing. For example, the translator will translate accounts of the conquest of Jerusalem by one author, move onto another event then translate something by another author returning back to the conquest of Jerusalem. In another words, the book appears quite disjointed and doesn't really have much of a flow to it. You will often find yourself reading the same event written by a different historian which isn't really a problem if you give all the accounts in the same place but the translator tends to just translate one large chunk of a book at a time without any real effort to make it chronological.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are interested in the Crusades, this is a must have in your library. This gives eyewitness accounts from the perspective from the Arab historians. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mike Edwards
This book is full of first hand accounts by muslim chroniclers during the various crusades. Some of the opinions are biased and may be hateful exaggerations of the truth but I... Read morePublished on January 31, 2012 by Svarog The Mighty
In his introduction, Professor Gabrieli expresses the idea that his translation of Arabic texts is geared toward both the historian and the interested layman. Read morePublished on June 13, 2011 by Bryan Byrd
A considerable amount of history during the early Middle Ages was written by Middle Easterners, and their scholarship should be taken seriously, as shown in this book. Read morePublished on April 19, 2007 by J. Gresham
A very good source, especially for those who have read about the Crusades and understand the context of the writings. Read morePublished on January 21, 2006 by Phil B-W
A good book. It has many parallels with accounts of the original Muslim invasions and subsequent 700 year occupation of most of the Iberian (Spain/Portugal) Penninsula. Read morePublished on September 6, 2004 by C. Silva