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Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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Jonathan Phillips, Professor of Crusading History, Royal Holloway, University of London, and author of Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades
“Impressive storytelling—Rubenstein carries the reader through this epic with real panache, lucidly conveying the giddying ebb and flow of faith, emotion, politics and brutality that so characterized the First Crusade. A powerfully argued contribution to our understanding of the people and the times of this landmark event.”
“The First Crusade has been a source of fascination from the late eleventh century down to the present. Recent historians have analyzed this epochal event in terms of demography, economics, secular politics, ecclesiastical politics, and ecclesiastical theory. Jay Rubenstein asks a refreshing question: How did the thousands and tens of thousands who joined the sacred undertaking view it? His fascinating answer is that most of these crusaders were convinced that they were living at the cusp of the end of days, at the point in time when the world order would change dramatically. Rubenstein’s insights will profoundly enrich our understanding of the First Crusade, its glories, and its horrors.”
James Reston Jr., BookForum
“Jay Rubenstein’s Armies of Heaven is a beautifully researched, well written, and highly accessible account of the first Holy Crusade, recounting it through the lens of eschatological theory…. In unflinching detail, Armies of Heaven walks us step by step through the process of ‘taking the cross’: the preliminary pogroms against Jews, the mobilization of the armies, and their ever more violent and uncontrolled adventure to Constantinople and beyond.”
San Francisco Book Review
“The book is about as raw as the stories beginning told. Rubenstein found a great way to tell an exciting story built on an extensive historical foundation…. This work is a perfect blend of military and religious history, with some great inner politics on the side. It is a brilliant piece of work and would be the shining jewel to a historian’s shelf.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Q: "You once said that after the Crusades, everything was different. What did you mean by that?"
Rubenstein: "The First Crusade is like the end of the Cold War or the French Revolution. It's one of those moments in history that is truly transformative. After the Crusades, warfare became a large-scale enterprise and it was much more brutal. Atrocities happen in a territorial war, but in ideological warfare, atrocities happen as a matter of principle. In an ironic way, the Crusade also created a sense of shared achievement among the people back home. When the First Crusade was celebrated back home, people said, Look what we've done! The Crusade also helped to define Europe as a common people, a common culture--Christendom--in opposition to everything that was Eastern. Christendom would spread out and take over the world, in a Fukuyama-like sense, bringing an end to history. The Crusade was also an apocalyptic event. Before the First Crusade, the standard interpretation of the Apocalypse was that it would come and there was nothing anyone could do to affect it. God would work his will. The Crusade, however, created among contemporary historians and theologians the notion that humans could activate God's plan. History was no longer just one event following another. Instead, history was leading to the Apocalypse, and we had the capacity to bring it about."
Q: "What impact did the Crusades have on the Muslim world?"
Rubenstein: "Initially, I don't think Muslims took a lot of notice. To them, the Crusaders were just another frontier army, one more piece on the Middle East game board.Read more ›
Armies of Heaven by Jay Rubenstein breaks down the ins and outs of the first crusade and the four gory years that followed. The book starts with a short introduction to sum up the events that lead to the 1095AD quest to Jerusalem. Rubenstein applies all of the legends, myths and truths from this time period and uses them to create a clear story of those events.
The book is about as raw as the stories beginning told. Rubenstein found a great way to tell an exciting story built on an extensive historical foundation. The back of the book is filled with notes from each chapter citing sources.
The story is fast paced and this reviewer was surprised by how quickly the book was finished. This work is a perfect blend of military and religious history, with some great inner politics on the side. It is a brilliant piece of work and would be the shining jewel to a historian's shelf.
*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There were many interesting details in the book but the thought that captured the most interest was the apocalyptic aspect of the First Crusade. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Andreas Wozny
A good read and full of facts. If you are interested in the Crusades this is a good place to startPublished 8 months ago by chuck's reviews
Well written and fascinating. A little too much anecdotal material, however.Published 10 months ago by Richard greenbaum
Great book well organized and thoroughly cited. Would recommend as a text for intermediate studies of the Middle Ages. Read morePublished 19 months ago by mothermc
If you know nothing about the Crusades, I would recommend this book. I was very impressed how Rubenstein was able to outline the historical aspects of the events of the Crusade,... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Gary Albaugh
The author takes this complex story and makes it 'easy reading'! Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Excellent book.-rrPublished on June 29, 2013 by Richard C. Radi
The author approached the First Crusade differently from most writers - especially his emphasis upon apocalyptic concepts. He included many facts and concepts that were new to me. Read morePublished on May 27, 2013 by Amazon Customer
This is the First Crusade from an entirely new perspective. It's easy and enjoyable to read - well-written and fast-paced. Read morePublished on May 16, 2013 by vab
This is an excellent--and remarkably informative--book. Even if you have no background knowledge regarding the Crusades, the book is still a great read.Published on October 17, 2012 by Chase