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An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar [Paperback]

James Wasserman

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Despite the increasing scholarship devoted to the study of the Templar order, founded in 1119, the mystery surrounding the Templars endures. Secret societies from the Freemasons to the Ordo Templi Orientis claim descent from this religious order of warrior-monks. As the private army of the pope, the Knights Templar were initially established to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land but grew to become one of the most powerful organisations in the Middle Ages. With period illustrations from manuscripts from the Crusades, interpretive romantic paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries and contemporary photos by Steven Brooke and others of former Templar strongholds in Europe and Jerusalem, James Wasserman, author of the bestselling "The Templars and the Assassins", provides a fascinating history of the Order and the many mysteries and legends that still surround it. Wasserman presents the evidence for the Templar connection to mystical Islamic organisations, such as the Assassins, as well as their ties to "heretical" groups, such as the Cathars, who were targeted by a crusade in southern France to expunge the challenge they presented to the orthodoxy of their time.

In addition to providing an overview of the Templars' actions during the Crusades, Wasserman revisits the trial and the charges levelled against them, showing how the Order was ruthlessly crushed. He, also, explores the nature of the treasure they left behind, which has fuelled popular imagination for centuries.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Templar Treasure 8 Oct 2006
By Richard Kaczynski - Published on Amazon.com
James Wasserman needs no credentials beyond his bestselling The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven, although he clearly has them in abundance. In this history of the Knights Templar--a group shrouded by equal parts misunderstanding, myth and mystery--Wasserman applies his scholarship with remarkable clarity and brevity. Volumes have been written on the Templars, but here we have a concise, thorough summary in 200 pages. The real treasure, however, is the inclusion of over (by my rough count) 160 full color illustrations of the history, geography and persecution of the Knights Templar. These are lovingly culled from museums, rare books, and contemporary photos of Templar sites in Rome, Jerusalem and France by Steven Brooke and Vere Chappell. The book production is not only tasteful, but beautiful. If you're a fan of the literature, then An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar is a must have. And if you're looking for an overview of what the fuss is all about, then this may be the only book you need. Either way, at this price, the book is a bargain.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I had only one book about the Knights Templar... 17 Dec 2006
By W. M. Thom - Published on Amazon.com
Hats off to Mr. Wasserman! I have read over a dozen treatments of the Knights Templar and Mr. Wasserman's books set the standard that I measure the others against. His research is meticulous. His history of the Templars begins with background on the founder and follows through to the fateful Friday the 13th when the Knights were imprisoned and their property seized and the ensuing torture and sham trials endured by these Knights.

"The Illustrated History" offers no fairy tales, myths, or undocumented rumors. This is the history of the Order as documented by them and both their European and Arab enemies.

The term "Illustrated" hardly begins to describe the number (over 160 - about one image per page) of images in this book. I can't imagine the scores of hours it would take an individual reader to research and locate so many images of the Knights Templar, their enemies, their properties, and their battles. This book easily has more images than any ten other books I have read on the Templars. Images range from 13th and 14th century paintings through Paul Kirchner's drawings and Vere Chappell's contemporary photographs of many important sites. Finally, two full page maps put the reach of the Knights and the distances involved in the Crusades into startling perpsective.

Mr. Wasserman offers detailed background on the geopolitical climate in the Holy Lands during the centuries the Templars battled for and protected sacred sites in the name of the Pope. I suspect many readers will see similarities to today's geopolitical struggles in Arabia and Persia.

If I had only one book about the Knights Templar in my library, "An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar" is the one I would want. No one will regret buying this book for themselves or as a gift. Take advantage of amazon and get this book and "The Mystery Traditions" too! I can't believe so much value is so affordable here!
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winning Combination 16 Dec 2006
By acatlady - Published on Amazon.com
James Wasserman has produced a gem of a book here. He's given us a solid, concise and what's more, nicely readable recounting of Templar history that can inform the novice reader on the subject without losing the interest of even a committed Templar buff. Plus this book is beautiful, chock full of carefully chosen images from many sources and eras that can deepen any reader's understanding and appreciation of the Templars: their times, their story, and the fascination they've exerted across the centuries. Many of the images in An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar, notably some the wonderful photographs of Templar sites, haven't appeared in print before. And, finally, as previous Customer Reviewer properly observed, "the book is a bargain." Give yourself and/or the Templar fan in your life a treat and buy this book.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and Informative! 16 Dec 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is in my opinion the best, and certainly the most beautiful book on Templar history published to date. I loved Mr. Wasserman's 'The Templars and The Assassins', and he has truly outdone himself with 'The Illustrated History'. The book contains a clear and concise history of the Knights Templar, along with page after page of exquisite photos and artwork that pull the reader right into the historical world of the Templars. This is definitely a must-have for any Templar enthusiast!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little is duplicated, here. 8 Feb 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Plenty of books have been written about the Templar order founded in 1119, but the mystery surrounding them continues. Author James Wasserman is a thirty-year member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, has written other books on the topic, and here provides a history of the Order and its legends and mysteries. From images of Crusades manuscripts to interpretive paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries and modern photos of former Templar places in Europe and Jerusalem, AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR makes the most of visuals from all centuries and is a recommended pick for any new age collection, even those who already have several books on the topic. Little is duplicated, here.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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