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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Payne's book is very readable for history -- for me it went down like a novel. There are moments where he assumes some familiarity with the Crusades or with 11th-century geo-ecclecio-politics, but I would still heartily recommend this book to anyone starting to read about the Crusades for two reasons.
First, for a history book, of course, the key is a wide selection of primary and secondary sources, and Payne does not disappoint. From Egypt to England and Spain to Syria, he finds books, diaries and letters and incorporates it until his history reads like a story.
Second, it reads so much like a story, and it's such a good story, that you want a sequel. Then you remember it's history, and so you are left wanting to read more about the Crusades and the Middle Ages. What more could one ask from an "introductory" or summarizing book?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Payne's history of the crusades is hardly exaustive, but as an introduction it more than does the job. His style is readable and gives interesting little details that greatly enrich the story. Further, he gives a good deal of attention to the perspectives of the Arabs and of non-crusader christians. All and all, a fun read.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Payne produced a body of works (dates of publication: circa 1945 - circa 1982) that to this day remain nearly unparalleled in the realm of historical writers. Known for his diverse selection of topics, spanning nearly 3000 years of world history, Payne conquers a topic of interest with exquisite grace and eloquence, while still maintaining a matter of fact, written tone that average reader can relate to and understand.

ABOUT THE CONTROVERSY:

Throughout the course of Robert Payne's career, he was often criticized by those readers who confused his novel's, containing fabulously imaginative and superb prose, with his purely nonfiction-ally based documentaries. When those two categories become blurred, it can at times, nearly mar an author's reputation beyond repair. For example, if a reader of Payne's books would consecutively explore "the shepherd", "the lord Jesus", "the holy fire", and "the dream and the tomb", the reader would find them self immersed in a wealth of information relating to the existence of Christ and the formative years of Christianity. However, there would be two out of the four text's which were intended to be novel's, rather then works of nonfiction, despite the fact that each of the four books contain a tremendous amount of factually based material. It is when a reader who has become accustomed to Payne's nonfiction-ally based works, in-turn, and unawaringly begin to read the authors "in-part, fictionally based works" that problems start to arise, as quite obviously, the reader will begin to doubt the credibility of the author when reading his fictionally based material, and holding it against the nonfiction-ally based.

ABOUT "THE DREAM AND THE TOMB":

"The Dream and the Tomb" is initiated with the preliminary facts of the first Crusade, while detailing the necessary early historical figures, Peter the Hermit, and the like. The book reads from one chapter to the next with the greatest of ease, while still presenting a compilation of information that is both comprehensive and necessary to the understanding of the quest for the Holy Sepulchre.

Latter in the book the well knitted, short biographies of great historic figures of the like of Saladin, Frederick II, the lineage of Baldwin, Robert the lion-heart, and a host of others are explored, leading the reader to also gain an essential and interesting history of the early and formative years of Europe, at times that were contemporary to the Holy Conquests.

By the end of the text, Payne, has very admirably reached the TRUE conclusion of the history of the Crusades by detailing the existence and ultimate fate of the LAST of the remaining supporters of the Christian cause on the island of Ruad, rather then simply ending with the last significant battle, and ultimate defeat of the city Acre, lead by Khalil the sultan of Egypt.

IN CONCLUSION:

This reviewer presents "The Dream of the Tomb", as a must read for anyone who is looking to gain preliminary insight into the history of the Crusades. It should go without saying that there are many other publications which present a much more detailed and in-depth look at this ominous period of Christian history, although, author Robert Payne very successfully laces all of the necessary threads (and a few extra) of this topic together in a fabulously superb creation, which in fact may quite possibly be one of the masterpieces of the authors career.

-Eric I. Spoutz,
Art Consultant, Art Investor
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
The subject of this book, the crusades, is enthralling and captivating already. However, Robert Payne makes reading about the crusades an adventure itself with his gritty, vivid writing style, which has brought history to life in a way I have not scene in any other historian's writing.

History is an age old social science. In modern times, it has developed into a precise calculus, and any good historian, desiring credibility, follows a formula which I must admit often strikes layman readers like myself as rather dry: every claim must be justified and backed up, in every sentence obscure historians of the past are envoked as a way of saying, "See, other historians have said so, I am repeating the words of those who came before, my claims are valid." Modern, scholastic, historical writing is plagued by a (necessary) insecurity, ever word uttered seeks precedent in the historical analysis of the past.

Payne breaks this mold. Somehow, he does this successfully without coming across as incredible, as dipping perilously into "historical fiction" where author elaboration blurs historical veracity. His history reads like an exciting novel, yet his credibility remains stalwart due to his constant reliance on primary sources. Often, Payne's narrative voice describes with artistic detail the look of such-and-such a prince, or the feelings of so-and-so King or Sultan as he attempted some epic conquest or folly; however, this bold claims are often drawn straight from primary sources in the forms of letters and narratives written at the time. Payne weaves these letters into the narrative himself as a way of reminding his readers the historical authenticity of his descriptive powers. Despite his exciting writing style and his artistic abilities as a writer, he always falls back to primary sources at the times when his personal voice could intrude: this tactic is illustrated most poignantly when Payne lets the players involved in the fall of Jerusalem speak for themselves, creating a chapter consistingly solely of letters written by Saladin, Frederick Barbarossa, and the Master of the Temple.

For an authentic read on the crusades that will not bore, Payne's work is a prime choice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 1997
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a very interesting book on a very complicated subject. It covers a long period of time very well. Being careful not to lose its reader with arcane language, and yet remaining true to its period. The author does a good job of suppressing his 20th century values and thoughts while trying to explain the motives and actions of these medieval protagonists. If you have ever wondered why the middle East won't trust the West. This is the foudation of that answer
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Dream and the Tomb covers the story of the Crusades from their inception with Pope Urban II speeches at Clermont to the eradication of the last Crusader stronghold at Ruad. Robert Payne researched many years and consulted numerous primary sources like William of Tyre, Raymond of Aguilers, Anna Comnena, Jean de Joinville, and others. The authors style is very easy to read and enthralling. You will be drawn into the story and won't be able to put it down. Payne provides a great overview of the whole history of the Crusades and the kings of Jerusalem. Due to the massive scope of the undertaking, many things are left out, but the major events, characters, and intrigues are captured. This history will stir your interest in the Crusades and the sources cited by Robert Payne will provide many avenues to explore it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Every educated man should read this book before death, because it rounds out the story of Western history unequalled in all literature known to me. Because of its inclusiveness, the reader understands, perhaps for the first time, at least in my case, how the Mongols, Christians, Turks and other Muslim derivatives interacted. The pages drip with blood and gory details, so it's not something for the young and fainthearted, save those with extraordinary curiosity. Women who want to know more about the vanity of men will not be disappointed, either. Anyone who believes the Sunni and Shia will ever reconcile should find their inspiration elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Deeply researched and expertly written, this phenomenal comprehensive history of the Crusades is a must-read. Though rich with details, it never devolves into a dry historical timeline. Instead, through Payne's lyrical style, an intensely real and moving story emerges. He writes so well that I felt I really knew and understood every player on both sides of the tragic epic of the Crusades. My only complaint is that the book lacks adequate maps to help me visualize battles and sieges.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a Great book for someone interested in the crusades. Writing style is easy to follow and the information is formatted in a friendly manner. This book hits all the relevant points without bogging you down with details that you may find tedious. Those details do wet your appetite for further reading on the subject. It is a MUST have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
...this should be it. Well-written and concise, this book covers all the Crusades and related historical events. Enough detail to keep history buffs interested but general enough to keep the layman interested. An excellent introduction to the Crusades that will make real students of history want more.
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