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The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land Hardcover – March 9, 2010


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Hardcover, March 9, 2010
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060787287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060787288
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Author of The First Crusade (2004), British historian Asbridge widens his vista to the entire 1195–1291 duration of the crusading era, giving prominence in the holy-war epic to antagonists forever famous: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. Each leader’s role as standard-bearer of his cause reflects Asbridge’s significant emphasis on the entanglement of secular politics with the overt religious aspect to the wars between Latin Christianity and Islam. Crass considerations of dynastic power were never separate from the calculations of these champions and their successors, and partly indicate Islam’s desultory pace in expunging the Christian states established by the First Crusade. In addition, medieval warfare’s high-risk character—in which a single encounter, such as the 1098 siege of Antioch or the 1187 Battle of Hattin, could completely turn the strategic tables—goes far in Asbridge’s able hands to informing readers about the course of the Crusades. With perceptive commentary about spiritual motivations behind crusading and perspectives from contemporary Islamic sources, Asbridge constructs a comprehensive, sophisticated, and arresting analytical narrative rewarding to any level of historical interest, whether recreational or scholarly. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Brilliant, authoritative, and accessible, Thomas Asbridge’s THE CRUSADES is a must read. Asbridge balances impeccable scholarship with a gifted storyteller’s engaging voice. He vividly portrays the driving forces and personalities, the perspectives of Christians and Muslims, and the legacy of the Crusades in Christian and Muslim history and imagination.” (Professor John L. Esposito, Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, and author of The Future of Islam.)

“A truly comprehensive history of holy war in the Holy Land. Emphasizing the dramatic Third Crusade and its heroic antagonists, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, the narrative reads like an adventure story, albeit one that is both factual and instructive.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

More About the Author

Thomas Asbridge is Reader in Medieval History at Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of The First Crusade and The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land. He lives in England.

Customer Reviews

This is a very balanced look at an important period in history.
Patrick McGee
I think this book is interesting, well written and clearly very well researched.
Kevin
I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in this period of history.
Williamoftyre

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Busby on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First and foremost, The Crusades is a great read. From page one, it pulls you in with a narrative that reads more like a great adventure novel than true history. I for one, did not know much about the Crusades prior to this. As i progressed, I found myself investigating more and more details from other sources to further gain insight into the battles and backstory. That is not to say there are not plenty of details in the book as it is. It is very rich. The way Asbridge divided up each piece of the story really worked to make the journey concise, literate and educational. For a fan of history, The Crusades is as good as it gets.
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Shawn M. Ritchie on January 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A good, readable history of The Crusades has escaped me to this point, for whatever reason. I was very excited when Tynerman's God's War was released a few years ago, and quickly became disenchanted when I tried slogging through it and realized what a boringly-written brick it was. Couldn't finish it. Runciman's classic volumes, which have been the definitive essential reading for half a century now, are still valid, entertaining reads but have been long since over-taken by newer evidence and much fresher, more-encompassing interpretations. As a read, they're still great fun. As good history, they're quite biased and lacking today.

So, when I saw a shiny new tome promising a complete revisiting of long-held assumptions, I couldn't resist. Asbridge's chronology is straightforward; starting with a quick survey of Islam's rise and subsequent takeover of the Christian Holy Land, he moves to Europe to set the scene of the medieval papacy and nascent western kingships that would bring about the concept of Crusading. In a nice touch, he continues to revisit the contemporary meanings, definitions and assumptions behind crusading as it developed from an event without even a name ("crusading" was a later appellation) to the currently-understood form. From these basics, he moves us through each of the main five Crusades, deftly describing the expected peoples, places, and battles. He strikes a good balance between talking about the most important figures and key battles versus the less-glamorous but as-important topics such as trade and societal makeup that, while harder to make exciting, are very important when trying to gain a full understanding of the events.

Very crucially, he spends as much time covering the Arab viewpoint as he does the Christian.
Read more ›
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Brown on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Crusades is a fine historical work. It lacks some of the detail of the author's earlier work (The First Crusade) but it also covers a much longer time frame. I really enjoyed the in-depth personal accounts of the historical figures in the earlier book that are somewhat lacking in this work. I also feel that the author doesn't spend enough time on the importance of the Military Orders (Templars and Hospitallers). However the author does spend a great deal of time examining broader cultural issues which more than make up for a certain lack of insight into individual personalities. The author spends a significant amont of time assessing changing viewpoints over historical periods (i.e. does Richard Lionheart deserve to be considered a hero, was Saladin a true believer in jihad or a political opportunist, etc.) I enjoyed the analysis which is thought provoking and well researched. I highly recommend both works.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Neil Scott Mcnutt on May 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Asbridge has produced a major scholarly, detailed discussion of The Crusades from the perspective of both the European people and the Middle Eastern Islamic peoples, in 681 pages. The writing is scholarly but not "dry" and evidently draws on the descriptions of the conflicts, as described in letters and texts, that are cited in 56 pages of notes. While the author at times has to "connect the dots" to make a story come to life, it is not distorted and gives valuable insights. Maps are included to orient the reader with regard to the sites of the action. The action also includes the invasion of the Mongols, and the conflicts involving the Byzantine Empire. In the last chapter "The Legacy of the Crusades," the author gives his perspective on the modern interpretations of our conflicting cultures.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By T. Homan-Jones on December 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As far as the content, others have said it better than I can. Great book, page turner. Unfortunately, in the Kindle version, most of the footnotes are not linked (just see the number, can't read the footnote). There are a few footnotes that are linked, but reading one of those got me stuck at location 14052 at the end of the book, making whispersync useless. I've been trying to reset the 'furthest location' with Amazon customer service- way harder than I thought it would be- 30 minutes with the front line phone support and 12 minutes with a specialist to fix the location.

I recommend getting the tree version of this book, the Kindle version is a mess.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Largely an account of the political power plays (religious & secular) that may have motivated the leaders involved in roughly 200 years of "holy" war and the numerous challenges they encountered as they struggled to bring armies together under their banners. The book seems, to me, a fairly balanced discussion of the crusades/jihad, with enough information about actual battles to keep it moving while the main focus is actually "behind the scenes." The author, though, felt a need to constantly criticize other historians. Asbridge frequently implies that no one else had seen what was obvious to him and in a few instances, stops just shy of calling others' interpretations stupid. Another annoying tic he has is using the same tactic, repeatedly, to make these not-so-subtle attacks. He mentions a counter-interpretation then follows it with "in fact..." or "in truth..." (or a similar phrase) and proceeds with his take on events; as if his own interpretation should not be regarded as anything but ultimate truth, when ~in fact~ several interpretations are possible and valid (especially as much of the evidence is tainted by political maneuvering, religion and/or fear). He also has a habit of invoking 20/20 armchair hindsight in his assessment of the strategies employed by leaders in both camps. This is a common human failing, but coupled with the repetitive one-upmanship throughout Asbridge's book, it's just too much. I think this book is interesting, well written and clearly very well researched. But it would have been so much better were it not riddled with arrogant asides. It's unlikely that I'll read another of this author's works as the ego on display in this one sorely tried my patience.
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