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Comment: 1991 paperback. No annotations, but the pages are a little browned. Light shelf wear, with fading around the spine.
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A History of the Crusades: Volume 1 - The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Penguin History): The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem v. 1 Paperback – 28 Mar 1991

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A History of the Crusades: Volume 1 - The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Penguin History): The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem v. 1 + A History of the Crusades: Volume 2 - The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East 1100-1187: The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East 1100-1187 v. 2 + A History of the Crusades, Vol. 3: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (28 Mar. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140137068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140137064
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Sir Steven Runciman (1903-2000) was a medieval historian and expert on Byzantium.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Feb. 2004
This book is a detailed account of the beginning of the Crusading movement, giving you a well researched and interesting description of the events and characters of the First Crusade, like the infamous Tancred and the quixotic Walter Sans-Avoir.
The first section of the book gives you an overview of the wars between Islam and the Byzantine Empire. It also deals with the origin of pilgrimages, which can be difficult to follow considering the constant flow of events, names and dates. Yet when it comes to describe the First Crusade, Runciman's book becomes an adventure. This (and its two follow-ups) are must reads for anyone interested in the Crusades.
Runciman actually intended this series as a three volume set for other historians and academics, but his prose is so brilliant and lucid it can be easily read by the layman, give or take a few words.

All in all this is definately worth getting, and very rewarding if you stick too it. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 May 2009
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Unsurpassable as a history of the crusades. Sir Steven Runciman, possibly one of the greatest historians we have ever seen, learnt to read a huge number of languages - not just Greek plus Latin and its later derivatives, but also Arabic, Syriac, Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, Bulgarian, Russian, Armenian, Georgian and probably others too - we may never see his like again. This wide ranging linguistic skill enabled him to go straight to the original sources in his research. For this reason, it's unfair and totally unwarranted, as at least one reviewer here has done, to accuse Runciman of displaying a biased viewpoint from the Christian side only.

In the modern age, political correctness demands that the Christian side must always be seen as murderous bloodthirsty savages to a man whilst the Muslims must be seen as invariably cultured and peaceful and unable to do wrong. In a pre-PC age Runciman is quite objective in his treatment of all sides - no-one was incapable of great atrocities, it was the nature of the age, even if the Franks were worse. His sympathies however, as a Byzantinist and admirer of Byzantine culture, do lean towards the Byzantines; he sees the era as being in effect the last act in the long history of barbarian invasions of the Roman empire - the uncouth destructive barbarian Frankish hordes overrunning the cultured Byzantium and the Middle East, the nadir being the Crusaders' capture of Constantinople in 1204.

Certainly it's hard going, but such a thoroughly researched work covers the full complexities of the history of a period often envisaged simplistically in the popular imagination as one of Christian versus Muslim, but which is more correctly one of a constantly shifting power game of rivalries and alliances - by turns Frank against Frank, Frank against Norman, Norman against Byzantine, Frank against Byzantine, Byzantine against Turk, Turk against Arab, Arab against Arab, Sunni against Shia, Catholic against Orthodox and so on.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Brian Moore on 21 Oct. 2003
Like the other reviewers, I didn't find this entirely painless as, particularly at the beginning, the names and places come thick and fast and can be a little overwhelming. But it was definitely worth persevering with. Runciman's style may be academic but it's a far cry from the 1950's history books most of us were subjected to at school - local colour and asides keep you interested, quite apart from the epic scale of the story he tells. Although I'll probably wait a few months before starting the second volume, I definitely intend to read on.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By demdike on 3 Jan. 2007
I have read all three volumes of Runciman's History of the Crusades. I highly recommend these to anyone interested in the subject. He cites his sources clearly leaving plenty of room to dig deeper into the subject matter. The writing is factual (as others have commented) but this leaves the reader the opportunity to make up his/her mind on the issues and personalities involved and not be influenced by the opinion of the author.

It takes a while to get through the three books but I could not put them down until I had read till the last page of the third volume (The Kingdom of Acre). I would also recommend to pay for a hard copy as the books can serve as a great reference to other works relating to the Crusades. Most notably I would recommend reading the writings of William of Tyre (which Runciman makes extensive use of) as well as the Alexiad of the princess Anna Comnena. If you are willing do get hold of a copy of the Gesta Francorum as well as it is worth reading just for the sake of viewing the events through a pilgrim's eyes. I got a great bargain on a second hand copy. A reprint order is around £ [...] so unless you are seriously into the subject best borrow that one off a library.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Meph on 18 Dec. 2007
First off, it is important to note that Runciman's work (now over 50 years old) has by and large been superseded by more recent scholarship - in particular that of Jonathan Riley-Smith. Runciman views the Crusades as the last of the 'Barbarian Invasions' and his work often reads more like a threnody for the declining Byzantine Empire than a self-consciously 'objective' account of events. For a more up-to-date (though drier) general history, you would be better off reading Christopher Tyerman's new 'God's War.'

However, it is still more than possible to read and enjoy 'A History of the Crusades' for what it is - an epic account of three hundred years of history, and an energetic demolition of the view (sadly still prevalent in some circles) that the Crusades were bold and heroic, or somehow 'defensive' in nature. Although some of the analytical material is somewhat dated, the book is eminently readable and exciting, and is in my opinion still the best general introduction to the subject. Enormously influential in its day and still of relevance.
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