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The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople Paperback – March 29, 2005
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Instead of liberating Jerusalem, the knights and seamen of the West became embroiled in financial troubles and internal Byzantine politics. By the time the complex double-dealing was done, the Christian West had sacked Constantinople, the capital of the Christian East. Unity was out of the question forever more.
Mr. Philips has written an impressive and readable account of the Fourth Crusade for the lay reader. A more academic approach is "The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople" (1997) by Donald Queller and Thomas Madden. Of their 357 pages, over half belongs to a detail and lively narrative of medieval politics and the remaining 150 pages are devoted to an extensive bibliography and readable footnotes. A historical sequel is "The Fall of Constantinople" (1965) by Sir Steven Runciman about the conquest of the city of Constantine in 1453 by the Turks.
This book is one of the best popularizations of any period of crusading history that I have ever encountered (the only better one is Stephen Howarth's The Knights Templar). Phillip's prose is both smooth and engaging, and he cuts right to the heart of the issues. He clearly has done significant research into this subject, and he provides generous quotations from many primary sources.
Despite being a popularization, this book is surprisingly scholarly. He cites all of his sources, has explanatory footnotes, and seems to be very accurate.Read more ›
The third problem is that, to the best of my knowledge, there is not an original thought in Phillip's book. So, where do the two stars come from? One of the stars is issued for a generally readable and accurate assessment of the 4th Crusade that is derivative from other secondary sources. The second star is earned for the extensive translated quotes from the actual crusaders, Greeks, and other contemporaries involved with or around this incident. This helps illuminate the thinking of those involved within their own cultures and time. From there it is downhill. The last two chapters on the end of the Crusade and the Latin Empire are weak and weaker. The book occasionally delves off into tenuously related sidetracks. No author should use the same quotes more than once in a book. Phillips manages to do this on at least two occasions. There are other indications of sloppy editorial work, but I will not enumerate them. Phillips uses 21st Century analogies gratuitously and unenlighteningly. Penguin published the paperback on lousy paper, with weak print density, and almost no white space.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a ghastly horror this Crusade was...and how much suffering and destruction resulted. Jonathan Phillips’ book is actually a page-turner, although I know (from reading other... Read morePublished 27 days ago by M.E.Anderson
I like to learn about the crusades. It shows how gullible humanity can be; lured into life and death struggles over imaginary spooks and spirits. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Jonathan Phillips' book on the fourth crusade was a fascinating read. He recounted a critical period of history with a complete command of the facts and presented them in a most... Read morePublished 7 months ago by HRH
A very lucid explanation of a very bewildering historical anomaly!Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
I’m sure just like many other readers of this work – I came to it after extensive reading on the Muslim conquest of Constantinople 250 years after the 4th Crusade’s sack of the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by HappyDaze11
A very useful and well-written book of the Fourth crusade. I recommend it to everybody who likes reading about how the diversion of a crusade developed and turned towards the great... Read morePublished on June 19, 2014 by Anna Furedi
This book reads like a history lecture in college by a droning professor. It is not a fun read for the average reader. Ponderous and slow.Published on January 30, 2014 by scribner
This book was a choice from my book club, and I honestly thought that I would hate it. I dreaded reading it until the last minute, but I was pleasantly surprised. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Rhonda Elrod