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Arab Historians of the Crusades (Islamic World) [Paperback]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 1992 Islamic World
The recapture of Jerusalem, the siege of the Acre, the fall of Tripoli, the effect in Baghdad of events in Syria; these and other happening were faithfully recorded by Arab historians during the two centuries of the Crusades. For the first time contemporary accounts of the fighting between Muslim and Christian have been translated into English, and the Western reader can learn 'the other side' of the Holy War. Seventeen authors are represented in the extracts in this work, which have been drawn from various types of historical writings. The excerpts are taken firstly from the general histories of the Muslim world, then from chronicles of cities, regions and their dynasties, and finally from biographies or records of the deeds of certain persons.The Arab histories of the Crusades compare favorably with their Christian counterparts in their rich accumulation of material and chronological information. Another of their merits is their faithful characterization, which they practiced in the brief but illuminating sketches of enemy leaders: Baldwin II's shrewdness, Richard Coeur de Lion's prowess in war, the indomitable energy of Conrad of Motferrat, Frederick II's diplomacy. The chronicles are generous, naturally, with their praises of the great champions of the Muslim resistance, especially of Saladin, who towers above all the other leaders in heroic stature. This book gives a sweeping and stimulating view of the Crusades seen through Arab eyes.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (1 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520052242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520052246
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 13.8 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Professor Gabrieli has been completely successful in presenting a precise, vivid and impartial picture of these two centuries of relations between the Arabic-speaking world of the Middle East and the Christian world of Europe' - Asian Affairs --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 27 Sep 2012
By Tania
I think this book hosts a great collection of sources. The extracts on Salah Ud-Din are particularly overwhelming. Good book for any student of history.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, disapointing text. 5 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is clearly a valuable book bringing translations to Italian and thence other languages of some Arabic texts not otherwise available when it was first published.

But for me as a casual reader of history rather than a formal student I could have done with some analysis, perhaps even comparison with contemporary Western texts and some comment whether the Arabic texts are believed to give a more reliable picture.

For instance I know that battle accounts often inflate numbers of participants and dead but there is no indication here whether the figures given are credible.

I am aware that Amin Maalouf's The Crusades Through Arab Eyes has been criticised but it made a better read, leaving me feeling I'd been informed whereas the Costello makes me question where I should be doubting what I read and gives no help working it out.

The e-text itself is a great disappointment. There is a disclaimer saying that it has been optimised for MobiPocket PDA; on the Kindle the characters i-macron, u-macron, ae-ligature and Greek letters are malformed, being sized larger than the upper case standard of the typeface distorting the line spacing, curiously i-macron is fine: using the macron diacritic to mark long stressed vowels they litter just about every page. Another fault is that it has obviously been through a too-smart word processor: leading apostrophes - which abound in transliterated Arabic - appearing as quote marks. For 14.50 I think one has the right to expect much better. In fact offering a MobiPocket e-text as a Kindle book from the Kindle store with these faults strikes me as sharp practice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ***** 23 Sep 2011
Really excellent source of historical information and background. ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
64 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative 12 Mar 2001
By Jeffrey Leach - Published on
I read this book for a class on the Crusades. This is an extremely informative book that provides a different viewpoint on the European invasions of Palestine and Egypt from 1098-1303. Gabrieli includes excerpts from several Islamic historians who wrote copiously on this topic, and the information they provide gives the reader a different view of the fight for the Holy Land.
This book reads quite fast, as the excerpts for the most part are very short. The best section of the book has to be the detailed information on Saladin, the Arab general and sultan who dealt the Christians a punishing blow at Hittin in 1187, and who eventually retook Jerusalem. Lots of stories provide an interesting character study of this Islamic hero. We read about his military heroism, his religious piety, his sense of justice and honor, and his relationship with the Christians. There is the interesting story of how Saladin helped a Christian woman recover her child. The child was seized and was almost sold into slavery until Saladin intervened on her behalf and returned the child to its mother. The other sections of the book deal with the initial campaigns of the Christians during the First Crusade, such as the taking of Antioch and the legend of the Holy Lance, a ridiculous story that the Arab historians rightly perceive as total bunk. The last part of the book deals with the Egyptian campaigns of Louis IX and the eventual collapse of the Christian occupation in Palestine.
Most of these writings are pretty interesting, but there are a few drawbacks. Many of these accounts are propaganda meant to paint the Muslims in the best possible light. Also, this would be a useless review unless I mentioned the amazingly horrible writings of Imad ad-Din, who served as a close official to Saladin. His prose is so turgid and congealed that it is very taxing to get through. He spends a whole page giving EXTREMELY gory descriptions of the dead Christians at Hittin. There are only so many descriptions of bashed in heads and ripped livers a person can take! His prose is so difficult that it is hard to glean the actual history out of his writing. A final downfall of the book, which is more my fault then anything else, is the complicated names of the Arabs. These guys have more names then you can shake a stick at. It takes a leviathan effort to wade through them.
Overall, this is a very worthy book for someone interested in this time period. Any serious historian should always look at as many sides of an event as possible, and this book will give many insights. Just be prepared for Imad's interesting accounts!
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great achievment 22 Aug 2004
By Sebastian Lopez - Published on
Gabrieli must be congratulated on condensing the mass of Islamic sorce material for the covered period, into one condense book that fairly reflects the Islamic view on events all well known to the armchair historian from the Christian chronicles.

Not only is it a great work of selection, editing and translation, but it is an enthralling read throughout. Always intersting, sometimes shocking and humourous.

An essential accompliment to anyone's book collection who is intersted in crusader history.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Companion Material 4 July 2006
By Dominick Bruno Jr. - Published on
As other reviewers have noted, this book is an engrossing, highly informative text, that is (generally) quite an easy read. It can be gory and propagandistic at times, as some have noted. Overall, it's a very good digest of Muslim narratives of several key events.

The main drawback is that I would not consider this a stand-alone book, particularly on a lot of the convoluted political arrangements - I'd suggest Wasserman's "Templars & the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven" for that - and I really don't think one can get the full understanding of the Muslim mentality in fighting the Crusaders from it. For that I'd suggest al-Sulami's "Way of Sufi Chivalry" (for those on a budget) or preferably Sabzawari's "Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry" (for those who aren't) to get into the mindset of the Muslim warriors. For while "Arab Historians" includes a lot personal commentary from the authors, these last two books were written as guides for the emirs and warriors, and once reading them one gets the feeling that "Arab Historians" was written by some military public relations officer.

Still a highly recommended, enjoyable read, though.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful source material 25 Mar 2006
By Tim Bray - Published on
Once you've read the popular histories of the Crusades, and your appetite for the original source materials has been whetted by the excerpts in Payne, Runciman, etc., you will want this book. It's THE source reader for the Arab perspectives, better in many ways than The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Maalouf). You get the flavor of the culture as well as their particular slant on the events and personalities. And the snarky footnotes can be delicious!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 22 Jan 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
A very good source, especially for those who have read about the Crusades and understand the context of the writings. This book is not an overview of the crusades or of a single crusade; it is selections from the writings of Arabic historians placed in a chronological order. Easy to read, detailed and engrossing; both useful and enjoyable.
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