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Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade Paperback – May 14, 2002
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Writing with a keen sense of historical detail and drama, Reston traces the complex path by which Saladin and Richard came to face each other on the field of battle. The Crusades, he observes, began "as a measure to redirect the energies of warring European barons from their bloody, local disputes into a 'noble' quest to reclaim the Holy Land from the 'infidel'." Of the five Crusades over 200 years, only the first was successful, to the extent that the Christian armies were able to conquer their objective of Jerusalem. The Third Crusade, as Reston ably shows, was complicated by fierce rivalries among the Christian leaders, by a chain of military disasters that led to the destruction of an invading German army and its emperor, and by the dedication of an opposing Islamic army that shared both a goal and a language.
Saladin, Reston writes, was a brilliant leader and a merciful victor, but capable of costly errors; Richard was extraordinarily skilled at combat, but his lack of resolve cost him many battles, and, ultimately, Jerusalem. Richard returned to Europe, Saladin to Damascus. Neither leader has long to live, and the peace they made would soon be broken. James Reston's splendid book does them both honor while examining a conflict that has never really ended. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Crusade. Indeed, I stopped all other activities in my busy schedule to
finish the book.
Until I read this book, I had encountered very little about the
Crusades. Last year I read Karen Armstrong's "Islam," in which a few
paragraphs address the subject. So, to this point, most of my knowledge
comes from "Warriors of God."
There were a few things that struck me as odd about the book. First, no
footnotes. The book is full of odd and marvelous stories, and I wanted
to look up their sources. However, without the footnotes I could not do
that. Reston does provide a list of primary and secondary sources, but
it's unfortunate that he didn't give us more detail in footnotes.
Second, I was struck by his sympathies with the Muslims and relative
disdain for the Christians. I have no idea if his judgments are accurate
or not, but I did find it odd that his description of Saladin was so
deferential. This may be my westerner's view of things getting in the
way, but it's what I experienced when reading the book.
Finally, I couldn't tell what was true and what was not. Periodically
Reston would judiciously point out that a certain scribe might be
inflating figures or portraying his master in too favorable a light. But
then Reston doesn't use the same critical thinking, for example, about
the blood flowing in the streets of Jerusalem during the First
Crusade. It seemed to me that it would have helped if Reston had
supported that bit of lore with a not pointing out how it could be true
-- by some calculations in geometry -- that the Crusaders were literally
wading in the blood of their victims.Read more ›
This work will give the reader a decent general history of the 3rd Crusade, but those not familiar with the era may have a difficult time separating Reston's facts from his fictions. I advise readers to go in a different direction. Unfortunately, a good work on the 3rd Crusade alone surprisingly doesn't exist.Read more ›
For instance, while at times citing sources which he admits to be biased, such as the English view of the French attitude during the Crusade, he isn't adverse to applying adjectives as if they were factual, such as "whiny" to the French crusaders who had to leave the comforts of Acre. Perhaps they were whiny, and speculation serves well enough in this instance -- but source material would be helpful.
And, at times, Reston quotes historical figures verbatim, sometimes entire paragraphs -- which means there must be a source for the quotes, but Reston doesn't provide them.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I was uncomfortably aware that, with its lack of source material and Reston's proclivity to add adjectives, I probably wasn't getting as complete a picture as I wanted. The book is categorized as "History," but without the academic -- if boring -- authority behind it, it may well be categorized under "Historical Fictional Nonfiction." Reston probably needed a more historically informed editor.
First, the author is correct. Saladin was a great man. That is a point too little stressed in traditional teachings of the Crusade.
Second. There are other issues that helped "spark" the Crusade. For example, while the takeover of Jerusalem was without bloodshed in 638, it occurred as a result of military force, or what used to called in Arab Conquest. But the city still contained one of the holiest shrines for Christendom, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Finally, after many years of Muslem tolerance representing the high point of medieval rule, a new ruler's actions showed a "lack of sensitivity." Caliph Hakim ordered the Church's destruction in 1009. In an age of religious ideology, this certainly was not the smartest of actions.
In sum, a good book but one needs to remember that both sides showed the complete range of human emotions, both good and bad....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a beautifully written book about a bloody chapter in our history. Reston's research is beyond thorough so as to allow you to participate in the battle plans and action, but... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Carol A Drury
I've read many a history book, and generally have no problem with liberties being taken in the interpretation of history. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Elizabeth Riley
Nicely written and flows very well. A good look into the roots of some of the tensions between the middle east and west.Published 7 months ago by Dave
"Warriors of God" was a major disappointment for me. I was expecting a historically accurarate protrayal of the great struggle between the forces of Christendom and Islam. Read morePublished 7 months ago by P. BENNETT
Excellent coverage of the Third Crusade and the two leaders, Richard the Lion-Hearted and Saladin, along with many of the lesser leaders. An unforgiving era for all. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Glenn D. Robinson
This is a very readable account of the most famous Crusade (Second). I recommend it to anyone interested in that area of history. I would buy it again.Published 24 months ago by John Alden