36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
must have it,
By A Customer
This review is from: A History of the Crusades Vol. I: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Volume 1) (Paperback)
So you didn't like history either ? After being crammed withuseless dates and uninteresting facts about the decaying kings andkingdoms I never expected to ever pick up a history book again. So imagine my scepticism when somebody said that I "absolutely must" read Runciman's History of the Crusades...a work of history confined to only 3 volumes and enough pages to make any Russian author turn green with envy. And what a story...Runciman covers the 500 years of Middle East history with all the ingredients for a action packed thriller. The history is full of strong characters, mighty kings, impoverished adventurers and deceitful leaders. This is a tale of the clash of culture in its original form the east-west clash has its roots in these volotile times. The best part about these stories is not so much the historical matter of which they are made up but Runciman's presentation of his material. He manages an almost incredible amount of original and later sources without losing sight of his goal: a readable account of these fantastic times. The politics in these pages inspire to further studies of the period. There is nothing today which can mach the intrigue found in these pages and few writers have managed to make history come alive in such a thought provoking mix. What can I say ? I have a large library and since Runciman several historical works but nothing seems to ever reach the heights he attains or the inspiration. He is probably the only writer I feel able to read again and again without become tired in the repetition. Three volumes and 600 years defy explanation, within the covers one meets the greats like Baibers, Baldwin, the great Khan, Saladin and Richard the Lionheart and travels to the mystic scenes of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch. How can I say "must read" any plainer without sounding banal ?