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The Templars: The Dramatic History Of The Knights Templar, The Most Powerful Military Order Of The Crusades Paperback – October 9, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306810719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810718
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Knights Templar remain the most glamorous, but also the most mysterious, of all religious organizations. Romanticized by Walter Scott in his novel Ivanhoe and by Wagner in his opera Parsifal, the Templars have been both celebrated as ascetic martyrs, dying for the greater good of Christianity, and condemned as deviant heretics, thieves, and sodomites who sold the Holy Land out to the Muslim Infidels. In his carefully researched study The Templars, the acclaimed novelist Piers Paul Read investigates the truth behind the myth. Placing his account of the rise of the Templars within a wider historical and political context, Read argues that "The Templars were a multinational force engaged in the defence of the Christian concept of a world order: and their demise marks the point when the pursuit of the common good within Christendom became subordinate to the interests of the nation state."

This approach takes Read back into the Dark Ages and the context for the first Christian Crusade, which culminated in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. In an attempt to hold on to Jerusalem and one of the holiest sites in Christendom, the Temple of Solomon, the Templars were formed as a strict religious-military order, committed to poverty, chastity, and the protection of pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. Read charts their rise to political and financial power and influence throughout Europe and the Holy Land, and their bloody (and ultimately unsuccessful) conflict with the forces of Islam over the subsequent two centuries. Read's account is painstakingly recounted, but often lacks the verve and pace demanded by the colorful cast of characters, including Saladin and Richard the Lionheart. The best sections of the book deal with the shockingly cynical destruction of the Order by Pope Clement V and King Philip the Fair in 1312, preceded by the torture and death of hundreds of Templars who had already fought bravely for the cross in the Holy Land. The Templars are fascinating, but in his attempt to avoid the more colorful and conspiratorial stories associated with the Order, Read's book may strike some as a little turgid, despite its admirable historical detail. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The Knights Templar are not very well known today; but many of those who know them consider them as a corrupt order of monks who administered a citadel in Jerusalem during the Crusades. Arguing that the Templars deserve a better reputation than this, Read's balanced study judiciously synthesizes the history of this important religious movement. Formed in the aftermath of the First Crusade, the Templars were members of a monastic order who helped protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. Although similar to military orders like the Teutonic Knights and the Hospitalers, the Templars weren't, for the most part, warriors. When Christian forces held the Holy Land, most Templars aided them by managing the European estates that supported the military activities of the order. After the fall of the Crusader states, the Templars lost their military importanceAbut because their economic importance continued to grow, the pope and the king of France engineered their downfall through what Read considers to have been a miscarriage of justice. Templar leaders confessed, under torture, to all manner of sinful behavior and the order was destroyed. Best known for Alive (his best-selling account of cannibalistic survivors of a plane crash in the Andes), Read uses his keen eye for detail and facility with language to good effect here. Though he draws mostly from secondary sources, he enlivens his account with visual details; as he considers the larger political and religious significance of the Templars, he also describes the conditions of the monks' lives what they ate, where they lived, how they resisted sexual temptation, etc. But more compellingly, as he considers the rise and fall of this order Read tries to make their stories resonate in our own age (for instance, he notes that "the attitudes of many Muslims in the Middle East to the modern state of Israel is very like that of their ancestors to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem)Aand he occasionally succeeds. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Unfortunately, this book doesn't really do a good job of conveying very many ideals and thoughts of the templars.
J. Lentz
I was excited to read this book due to my interest in the history of the Templars, however I was very disappointed by the time I had finished.
Gallowglass
Don't get me wrong, I was also a bit annoyed about picking up a book called "The Templars" and not reading too much about the Templars.
JP

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Daria Kelleher on November 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have added this book to my personal library because it gives the history of the Knights Templar with clarity and precision. Reviewers who found it odd that the Templars weren't even mentioned until around page 90 overlooked the fact that it's difficult to just yank a story out of history without first giving some background. If you're looking for a more esoteric history that ties the Templars to things like the Shroud of Turin or the Holy Grail, you won't find it here. And, even though I enjoy reading those types of books, I still highly recommend this one. It's a no frills historical account.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "countess-bathory" on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I felt this book on the Knights Templar was very informative, especially since my knowledge prior to reading this book was far from extensive. This book explains the reasons for the Knights formation as a religious order, continues on through out the book with political, and structural issues. I feel that emphasis on the politics of the era is important as religion and politics were hardly distinguishable bureaucracies. My initial conflicting opinions on this religious order have been clarified to some extent since reading this book.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Gallowglass on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to read this book due to my interest in the history of the Templars, however I was very disappointed by the time I had finished. Although the book is well written, I would describe it more as an abridged history of the Crusades, followed by a few chapters about the destruction of the Templars, and topped off with a somewhat rambling concluding chapter that somehow ends up with a condemnation of the nation state!! Obviously some background history of the Crusades is necessary, but when the title of the book is "The Templars", the book should focus on how the Templars fit in with that history. I got the feeling when reading this book that the author had to remind himself to mention the Templars occasionally in the course of his descriptions of the Crusades!! My advise is to not bother with this book...spend the money on Sir Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades if you haven't already got it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale on June 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ask any schoolboy to give you his version of what a knight looks like and the chances are he will say that a knight wears chainmail, a helmet and a white surcoat with a red cross emblazoned on it. A pretty good description of what a Templar Knight would have looked like to us, had we been there at the time they were joining the crusades to protect pilgrims and save the Holy Land from attacks by the infidels.

Their Order rose to be one of the most powerful in the Western World, until their wealth and power began to frighten people in high places, no less in fact than the French King, who accused the Order of heresy and even immorality. He extracted confessions from the senior members of the order, through torture and even burning at the stake.

Most of the senior members of the Order were murdered and the few who escaped scattered across Europe.

This is an excellent book, descriptive and well written. Nothing like the dusty, dry volumes that I read in large numbers in sixth form college, more years ago than I would care to remember. This book is exciting and has the pace to grip the reader like a novel would, rather than a book with factual content. The truth well told will always beat fiction, at least in my book it will.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to read this book due to my interest in the history of the Templars, however I was very disappointed by the time I had finished. Although the book is well written, I would describe it more as an abridged history of the Crusades, followed by a few chapters about the destruction of the Templars, and topped off with a somewhat rambling concluding chapter that somehow ends up with a condemnation of the nation state!! Obviously some background history of the Crusades is necessary, but when the title of the book is "The Templars", the book should focus on how the Templars fit in with that history. I got the feeling when reading this book that the author had to remind himself to mention the Templars occasionally in the course of his descriptions of the Crusades!! My advise is to not bother with this book...spend the money on Sir Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades if you haven't already got it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hayford Peirce on August 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Or, perhaps, it should be renamed "A History of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, with Special Reference to the Crusades." The author tells us that this book was written to answer questions about the Templars, a legendary but shadowy group about which even the generally better-informed person of today probably knows very little. As a force in the Holy Land and Europe they lasted for only two centuries, from about 1100 to 1300. The author, however, in order to set the scene for them, first gives us approximately 2000 years of excruciatingly boring history about the development of the three main religions that have fought over the Holy Land for so many years and how the Templars were an outgrowth of this endless conflict. For page after page, name after name after name is invoked, battles are fought, spheres of influence come and go, Popes are named -- and then we get *another* 50 pages of the same stuff. And still no Templars.
Eventually the Templars are introduced -- but hardly play a major role in the *next* 200 pages or so. More names, more battles, more Popes, plus, of course, various Crusades. Finally, in the last 40 pages or so of the book, we have the destruction of the Templars at the hands of King Philip of France and the Church. Here the focus is finally put upon the Templars themselves, but even so in a curiously lifeless manner.
This is a dry, dull book that may well have been intended to be an overall history of this period until an editor took the author aside and told him that it would never be published unless he found some sort of theme to hook the narrative to so that it might interest the general reader -- with the result that the Templars were given an added emphasis.
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