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God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades Paperback – November 9, 2010
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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From Publishers Weekly
It always seems counterintuitive to moderns that warfare and religion can be consistent. Ideally, followers of the prince of peace are to avoid the sword and shield. Clearly, this has not always been the case. Frequently in the crosshairs of critics are the Christian wars against Muslims known as the Crusades, commonly viewed as the birth of European imperialism and the forced spread of Christianity. But what if we've had it all wrong? What if the Crusades were a justifiable response to a strong and determined foe? Stark, a prominent sociologist and author of 27 books on history and religion, has penned a compelling argument that these bloody encounters had less to do with spreading Christianity than with responding to an ever more dangerous enemy—the emerging Islamic empire. There is much to be learned here. Filled with fascinating historical glimpses of monks and Templars, priests and pilgrims, kings and contemplatives, Stark pulls it all together and challenges us to reconsider our view of the Crusades. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
“GOD’S BATTALIONS launches a frontal assault on the comfortable myths that scholars have popularized about the crusades. The results are startling. His greatest achievement is to make us see the crusaders on their own terms.” (Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity)
“At last, a convincing, balanced book on the Crusades, far from the recent unsophisticated and ideological diatribes against them as “A Bad Thing.” Rodney Stark demonstrates that the Crusades were neither unprovoked nor colonialist. Here is yet another rich and readable book from this thoughtful and distinguished author.” (Jeffrey Burton Russell, author of A History of Heaven and Paradise Mislaid)
“An excitingly readable distillation of the new, revisionist Crusades historiography.” (Booklist (starred review))
“There is much to be learned here. Filled with fascinating historical glimpses of monks and Templars, priests and pilgrims, kings and contemplatives, Stark pulls it all together and challenges us to reconsider our view of the Crusades.” (Publishers Weekly)
“[Stark’s] new book, God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, gives historic and sociological evidence for a fresh assessment of the Crusades.” (United Methodist Reporter)
“[Stark] wants to challenge the prevailing television pundit-level misunderstanding of the Crusades, and in this, his accessible, enjoyably argued book succeeds.” (Christianity Today)
“Award-winning author and sociologist Rodney Stark humbly goes to war against the many politically correct myths surrounding the history of the Crusades in this well-researched and easy-to-read academic masterpiece. Stark proves himself once again as a historical myth-buster.” (CBN.com, A+ rating)
“[Stark] makes the case [for the crusades] with admirable frankness and flair.” (The Catholic Thing)
“Rodney Stark turns what we ‘know’ about history on its head.” (Relevant Magazine)
“Stark’s style is clear and direct. He sets the pace of narrative masterfully...The result is a good read...Christian readers should welcome Stark’s affirmation of the best in scholarship, both old and new, and his willingness to argue a controversial position.” (Christian Scholar’s Review)
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On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II gave a speech graphically detailing the torture, rape, and murder of Christian pilgrims and the defilement of churches and holy places committed by the Turks. “They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they pour into the vases of the baptismal font...They torture people...by perforating their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate on the ground...What shall I say about the abominable rape of women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you?”
This is the traditional explanation of how and why the First Crusade begun. Alexius Comnenus, the emperor of Byzantium, had written from his embattled capital of Constantinople to the Count of Flanders, requesting that he and his fellow Christians send forces to help the Byzantines repel the Seljuk Turks. These were recent converts to Islam who had invaded the Middle East, ambushed Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, captured Jerusalem, and driven to within one hundred miles of Constantinople.
This book counters more recent criticism that the long-ago crusades are helping to fuel modern Islamic fury. Not true. The author shows how Muslim antagonism about the Crusades did not appear until about 1900, when there was a reaction against the decline of the Ottoman Empire and against European colonialism in the Middle East. Anti-crusader feelings did not become intense until after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
A very well-written and highly researched book.
So, even if you disagree with this author's opinion, this book might still be helpful in that it gives you information you may not have known. It probably will definitely give you information you've never known because a lot of the information is not PC to talk about, let alone form opinions about.
If you're interested in what ACTUALLY happened during the Crusades, then you really need to buy this book to get as full of a picture of what actually happened. Most of the books about the Crusades only discuss the acceptable versions and interpretations of the Crusades.