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The New Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues in History) (Critical Issues in World and International History) Paperback – 10 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; Updated Ed edition (10 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742538230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742538238
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 524,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


I love this book. It is clearly and artfully written, user-friendly, and well-organized, with excellent maps and an up-to-date suggested readings and sources in translation section. -- Paul Cobb, University of Notre Dame This enjoyable book is an excellent introduction for anyone interested in the Crusades. World History Connected Madden's small, accessible book is comprehensive, judicious, and fair. It should be required reading for anyone presuming to discuss crusading, crusaders, and the Crusades. Catholic Missourian Thomas Madden brings fresh understanding to these blemished, but at heart noble, efforts to defend the core of medieval European culture. -- Rev. William H. Scarle Leader Times Madden's books are the best. -- John F. Fink Criterion Exactly the right amount of information in just enough detail to hold the students' attention without overwhelming them. -- Kimberly Rivers, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

About the Author

Thomas F. Madden is professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. A widely recognized expert on the Crusades and Christian-Muslim conflict, he has written and spoken widely on the topic in such venues as the New York Times, National Public Radio, and PBS. He is the author of A Concise History of the Crusades, which was a Washington Post Book World Rave selection, Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice and The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, a History Book Club selection. He is the editor of Crusades: The Illustrated History and The Crusades: The Essential Readings. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Wilson VINE VOICE on 15 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
The New Concise History of the Crusades is recommended reading for anyone who wants a factually accurate, balanced account of the Crusades which does not resort to calling the Crusaders "imperialists" or blaming them for the Crusades. This book gives a factual account of what really happened during the Crusades and why they were fought. We see how it was part of the Christian desire for love and charity which provoked them to help their Byzantine cousins out of Muslim oppression, and that, originally at least, no imperialism or expansionism was involved. Madden keeps things balanced, though, by showing the Crusaders in an unflattering light much of the time. He emphasises that neither side in the conflict had a monopoly on good or evil.

However, I found the book to be lacking in a couple of areas, largely in the fact that I wish Madden had included a thorough referencing system and source list for all his assertions. There were some points made that I am unable to validate myself. For example, early in the book, Madden states that Pope Urban II had intended that all lands the crusaders recovered would be given to the "prince" in charge at that time, and that this "prince" was expected to be the Byzantine Emperor. However, having searched absolutely everywhere, I cannot find a single shred of evidence to substantiate this statement. I'm sure Madden has a reliable source; I just wish he had included it in the book.

But overall, this is an excellent page-turner of a book which gives you almost everything you need to understand the Crusades. Unfortunately, many "historians" and academics today have reduced the Crusades to politically motivated, ahistorical nonsense. In The New Concise History of the Crusades, Thomas F. Madden sets the record straight.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Howells on 23 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book by an American professor gives a clear history of the Crusades. It explains the background and context from which the crusade movement sprang and the motivation of the early crusaders. Refreshingly, the author explodes the widespread belief that the crusades were an aggressive Christian campaign against peace-loving Moslems. Atrocities were undoubtedly committed by both sides in the later stages of the crusades and during the Moslem counter-attacks but the early crusades were driven by piety and a large proportion of the crusaders were women and children. Further, the crusaders were not on a war of conquest - they secured Jerusalem and other holy places and set up defensive works to preserve them for Christianity whereas Islam's goal was the conquest of Europe. The Islamic forces were only halted at the gates of Vienna.

One learns a great deal about the personalities and motives of the leaders of the crusades and the methods of medieval warfare. The only reason that it was not fully satisfying is that it lacks any account of the construction of the massive crusader castles, particularly the amazing Crac de Chevaliers whose garrison consisted of 5,000 men and 200 horses!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 59 reviews
211 of 219 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Primer on the Crusades 31 Oct. 2005
By Brian A. Hathaway - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Thomas Madden's "A New Concise History of the Crusades". I have recently become an interested student of the Crusades, and this is the third book I have read on the topic. The book gave me thorough overview of the various Crusades, when they occurred, and who the major players were. I think the word concise is very appropriate, as Prof. Madden covers all the Crusades to the Middle East and Africa, from the first in 1096 to the seventh in 1270, as well as several other Crusades within Europe in 225 pages.

I think a reader interested in discovering the basics regarding the Crusades would do well to read this book as a starting point to other studies. Madden's select bibliography offers a considerable number of resources for further study, and he offers helpful comments on each of the resources cited.

I was particularly interested in the author's approach regarding the various myths surrounding the Crusades, although I would have liked to see his points developed a little more fully. Those arguments are apparently beyond the scope of this work, and will require further investigation through the sources he cited.

In summary however, I found the book enjoyable and it has piqued my interest in further study of the topic.
111 of 120 people found the following review helpful
An easy introduction 28 Jan. 2007
By David G. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is great for beginners. The writing is smooth and lively, and the author doesn't overwhelm you with too much useless information. Once you're done with this book, if you're interested, you should move on to the books by Jonathan Riley-Smith (we're using them at school). His books contain more information but they are more difficult; I would not recommend them for beginners. You should start with this.

Both Thomas Madden and Jonathan Riley-Smith take a refreshingly balanced approach. They do not paint the Crusades and Imperialism with the same brush, as if the crusaders were just a bunch of greedy European Christians out to plunder innocent Muslim lands. This is currently the popular view; but it confuses the greed of secular imperialists with the piety of devout crusaders. Furthermore, it assumes that Islam spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Spain 'innocently.'

Instead, the Crusades were armed pilgrimages to the holy land with three main objectives: a) to come to the aid of Eastern Christians who were under threat by Muslim forces, b) to recapture some of the territory which was recently conquered by Muslim forces, and c) to improve relations with the Eastern Church. Unfortunately, the Crusades eventually failed in all three of these areas.

Once a crusade was launched it was difficult to control, and too many atrocities took place along the way. Two common examples of such atrocities are the massacring of Jews in Germany during the First Crusade, and the sacking of the city of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Nevertheless, these atrocities were never the initial intentions of the Crusades. Thomas Madden explains all of this in a very fair way. He neither shies away from the ugliness of these atrocities nor uses them to justify an anti-Catholic/pro-secular rant.

A breath of fresh air.
149 of 165 people found the following review helpful
Well balanced and full of great information 3 Jun. 2005
By A. Cicogna - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For once, here is an author who is not scared of writing a good and well balanced book about the crusades.
The author is trying to make us understand both side of the issues, he is very fair and allow us to make our own decisions about the truth behind the motives of each sides.
This book is full of great information, has great details and tells us a great deal about the mentality of each participant, should it be the European nobles, the clergy, Popes, knights or muslims, their leaders and followers.
If you are an history buff like me you will really enjoy this book.
Easy to read and understand.
If you are not an apologist and have an open mind you will enjoy Thomas F. Madden's great work.
60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
A Superior Introduction to a Fascinating Topic 17 May 2005
By Chris Wade - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The author of this book is the most distinguished historian of the crusades in the U.S. I worried, though, that his erudition would make the book overly complex and unreadable. I shouldn't have worried! This book is a joy to read. Madden brings out the tension, excitement, and human drama of the crusades. Best of all, it is not the usual rehash of tired cliches, but instead the story is based on the best and most recent research. This is that rare book that appeals not only to professional historians, but also to interested general readers as well. If you want to know the truth about the crusades, grab this book!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Objective Overview 14 Feb. 2006
By James G. Miller - Published on
Format: Paperback
Although it delivered on the promise of being concise, unlike most abbreviated accounts covering such a large expanse of history, Madden packs an amazing amount of information in his book while fully covering the subject and at the same time writing with a style that makes it a real page-turner. Best of all, unlike so much other garbage being turned out by academic historians today, Madden never lowers himself into the sewer of political correctness. The final chapter on the legacy of the crusades was up-to-date and insightful. This book would make a great supplemental text for any world history class.
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