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A Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues History) First Thus Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0847694303
ISBN-10: 0847694305
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Editorial Reviews


In little more than 200 pages, in crystal-clear and economical prose, Madden does a superb job of exposition. As an introduction to the vast literature of the crusades, this is a jewel of a book. It has all one needs to understand the epic nature of the various mobilizations and invasions, who the important players were and how they operated, and why what was for centuries romanticized as chivalrous has today become odious. (James Reston Jr. Washington Post Book World)

Much praise is due to the author for giving us such a clear, concise picture of an ever-changing area of scholarship. (Patrick J. Holt H-Net Reviews)

Professor Madden has written a strong narrative of the crusades, focusing on the crusades to the East and on the major (or numbered) crusades. (James Powell)

Readers will be pleased that Thomas Madden has hit just the right note in his sweeping but concise account of the crusades. While he follows the development of crusading down to the period of the Protestant Reformation, and offers, in an afterword, speculations about the modern impact of the medieval crusade, he never fails to interest and inform. His prose is lucid. And to give the graphic point, he offers the reader fourteen clearly produced maps depicting the Mediterranean world about A.D. 1000, the routes of the main crusades, and the crusade plan of Maximilian I in 1518. The usefulness of these is reinforced by an index, a glossary, mainly of Islamic terms, a list of translated sources, and a select bibliography. (The Catholic Historical Review)

A gripping narrative approach of the medieval social, economic, religious, and intellectual environments that gave birth to the Crusades and nurtured them for centuries. (Missiology: An International Review)

This is a wonderful piece of work that will greatly add to the sum of crusade historiography. . . . It is brilliantly executed. . . . Madden's ability as a writer of gripping narrative shines through. This is a work that students will love, largely because it does not read like a textbook. (Alfred Andrea)

Readers will owe Thomas Madden warm thanks for so clear an introductory account of so complex a phenomenon as a crusade. (The Historian)

A brilliant text and handbook for students, teachers and all readers taking interest in the history of the Crusades. (Byzantische Zeitschrift)

It is clear handling of a complex subject that lets the facts speak for themselves. The book, moreover, lives up to its title. It is concise, but not overly simplified. It would serve as a fine text for undergraduate history students. (New Oxford Review)

Lucid, interesting, and lively. It certainly deserves to be listed in the bibliography for all undergraduate and school courses on the Crusades. (Islam And Christian-Muslim Relations)

About the Author

Thomas F. Madden is associate professor of history at Saint Louis University and the co-author of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople.

Product Details

  • Series: Critical Issues History
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; First Thus edition (October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847694305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847694303
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. As an author and historical consultant he has appeared in such venues as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The History Channel.

Awards for his scholarship include the Haskins Medal, awarded by the Medieval Academy of America, and the Otto Grundler Prize, awarded by the Medieval Institute. He is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent "first read" for those with an interest in the Crusades. Thomas Madden's writing is clear and to the point -- um, concise -- and he provides the necessary background when needed (For example, on the rise of Islam). The organization of the book is strictly chronological, making it easy to follow the ebb and flow of the various Crusades. The maps are sufficient to the purpose, though not exceptional. When things get a little complicated -- such as keeping track of the various rulers of the Crusader states -- Madden errs on the side of brevity, to keep the story moving. This allows the reader to take in the sweep of the crusading movement -- the countless errors, massacres, double-crosses, etc. on all sides.
As a sort of "bonus", Madden attempts explain the mindset of the Crusaders -- what was it about the Middle Ages that would cause Europeans to take up arms and leave their homes? Personally, I didn't see this so much as a defense or rationalization of Christianity. (Madden also relates Crusades against Christian "heretics" in Europe.) Others may take a different view. But that's the benefit of the book -- it serves as an exposition for further study...or continued debate.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those who have read books about the Crusades written by those who try to find some "balance" between the competing interests of current Middle East territory, this book is a refreshing look at what actually happened. While most of the globe has seen conquest of one form or another, and in some places, many times, this is one book that puts the Crusades in perspective. The Crusades were essentially an attempt to reestablish a Christian presence in the Levant after its conquest by the Islamic forces which swept across Northern Africa and the Middle East after the death of Mohammed. Madden gives us many interesting details of how the Crusades were beaten back by divisions within the Christian community of Europe just as much as they were beaten by the followers of Islam. One of the most intriguing issues is the treatment of how the pagan and Jewish communities were displaced initially by the followers of Christ through conversion to Christianity without force of arms, followed by armed invasions of Islamists who took possession of the area by way of the sword instead of by way of persuasion. The Crusades were essentially a movement to take back these formerly Christian enclaves the only way they could, through force of arms inasmuch as the Koran and its interpreters and enforcers prohibits any kind of freedom of religion as we know it in the West today. It is one of the reasons that there are no Christian churches allowed in Saudi Arabia today, where even observing a Christian service is prohibited. A fact which is always glossed over by Islamic apologists who misrepresent history today. This book has a lot of history, without the stridency of Trifkovic's "The Sword of the Prophet" which is an equally good, if not better, book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very readable and accessible "Reader's Digest" version of the history of the crusading movement that emerged in Medieval Europe during the late 10th century. Madden is a recognized medieval scholar who teaches at Saint Louis University, and who has authored or edited several other works on the Crusades. In just 249 pages Madden does an excellent job of navigating his reader through the complex web of political entanglements and considerations that occasionally resulted in behavior that could hardly be stranger if it were fiction. Misconceptions about the crusaders and their motivations are addressed in the light of more recent scholarship, and Madden also challenges the conclusion that the Crusades were ultimately a failure. This is a macro cultural and political look at the Crusades. Anyone looking for specifics on tactics and individual battles, or details on arms and armor, should look elsewhere.

There are 14 maps scattered throughout and a short glossary of terms. A handful of black and white photographs of various ruins from the era are also thrown in, but they are so few one wonders why they even bothered. One very helpful addition is a select bibliography that contains a brief survey on Crusade scholarship and the strengths and weaknesses of some of the major works on the subject. This is an excellent book for anyone looking for a balanced introduction to the Crusades. It will leave you wanting more.
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Format: Paperback
Madden presents an excellent and objective case for the real foundations of the Crusades. The two Crusading pillars were, first, a military response to invading Muslims and, second, an overwhelming commitment to theological presuppositions. Medieval Europe was committed to a universal standard of truth. They really believed in souls eternally perishing or eternally flourishing. These ontological and epistemological underpinnings came to fruition in the defense of Europe known as the Crusades. Most of all, this book returns to the post-"post-modern" commitment to real, objective, and honest scholarship. Post-modernism perverts all that it touches, to include history. Madden addresses this perversion head on with accurate historical data that demolishes post-modernism's strangling of the truth.
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