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Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades [Paperback]

Jonathan Phillips
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Sep 2010
In his remarkable book, Jonathan Phillips explores the conflict of ideas, beliefs and cultures and shows both the contradictions and diversity of holy war. He draws on contemporary writings - on chronicles, songs, sermons, travel diaries and peace treaties - to throw a brilliant new light on people and events we thought we knew well. Although the notion of fighting for one's faith fell into disrepute in the Enlightenment, Phillips traces the crusading impulse from the bloody conquest of Jerusalem in the First Crusade and the titanic struggle between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin up to the present day - to George W. Bush's characterisation of the war on terrorism as a crusade.

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Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades + The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land + The First Crusade: A New History
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184595078X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845950781
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Holy Warriors is not only very readable. Its skilful and detailed use of source material serves as a showcase of what is being done in this, the most intensively studied area of medieval historiography" (Robert Irwin Literary Review)

"Elegant storytelling... Phillips delivers an excellent, compelling, flamboyant and refreshing history of the crusades and wonderful character sketches" (Simon Sebag Montefiore Financial Times)

"Totally absorbing and magnificent history" (Mail on Sunday, Boris Johnson)

"[An] engaging and sprightly book... Each chapter is telegenic, tele-visual even. We get vivid re-creations of places, personalities and events" (CJ Tyerman Times Literary Supplement)

"He [Phillips] has a real gift for highlighting the picturesque and for bringing the past alive." "With its crisp management, accessible style and deft characterisation, this book stakes a strong claim to be the most appealing narrative account of the Crusades for a general audience." (BBC History Magazine)

Book Description

A vivid and original history of the Crusades - from the middle ages to the present day.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but a good book nonetheless 2 April 2010
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I started this book expecting (in all probability through some fault of my own, not having read the short description attentively enough before ordering it or some such mistake) a general, chronological history of the crusades. Chronological it is, but general it is not. In the introduction, Jonathan Phillips declares he has a double aim: to 'bring to life a variety of figures and events outside of those well known to a general audience', and devote equal attention to the Christian and Islamic point-of-view.

Measured against these objectives, the book does indeed deliver the goods. All of the pivotal, almost larger-than-life protagonists of the crusades (Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, Louis IX, ...) get their share of attention too of course, but there are indeed insightful and interesting chapters on less-well known figures such as Queen Melisende, or Frederick II. Furthermore, Phillips does indeed make ample use of both Christian and Islamic contemporary (and later) sources, giving a balanced view of the crusades/jihad and how both concepts evolved over time. Also, the scope is not limited to those crusades launched to liberate Jerusalem but there are chapters on the Albigensian crusade, the Spanish Reconquista and crusading in the Baltic too, and the book ends with a very interesting chapter on 'modern' crusades and crusaders (from Walter Scott to George W. Bush).

To sum up: if you are looking for a detailed, chronological history of the crusades The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land or
... Read more ›
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting introduction 31 Dec 2009
I have been reading about the crusades for some years now, and went through Runciman, Tyerman, Housley, Riley-Smith,... This book by Phillips is a great addition to this list. The author concentrates more on some individuals (Arab comtemporaries, Queen Melisende,...), and tries to give some perspective and background to the whole crusading experience. I was very pleased with his emphasis on the Muslim side and view. He makes clear that commercial and other contacts existed between the crusaders and local (Muslim) poupulation once the Christian kingdoms were established. Anyone wishing to get some insight in the crusades should read this book, together with Tyerman's "God's War", which is more detailed on historical facts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've always been fascinating by the history of the Crusades - if only because the reverberations of what happened so many hundreds of years ago is still so terribly relevant to the world today. The impact of the Crusades on the East/West, Muslim/Christian divide is impossible to overstate: the metaphor of a 'crusade' is used today in everything from politics to entertainment; the Muslim concept of 'holy war', jihad is enshrined in the very core of the religion, and the arguments and political and physical strife over Jerusalem continues to this very day.

In this book Phillips charts the narrative history of the Crusades, from the first Crusade' successful recapture of 1099 to the final collapse of the Levant states in 1291, as well as the crusades declared against the Cathars in southern France and the pagan states in the Baltic, and the political and military wrangling over Constantinople. He also looks into the lingering legacy of the crusade as a concept, its place and use in today's society and the impact the word is, George Bush's use of the term after 9/11, for example.

It's a very good book, and it manages to make clear what was often an incredibly tangled and complicated era, with competing monarchs, military orders, Outremer nobles, sultans and monks all adding to the complications. I would have possibly liked a little more about the role and history of the military orders such as the Knights Templars, Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights, as their involvement in many cases was far more than just military and they placed an enormous role in the development of Outremer. But as this after all a quite concise exploration about several hundred years of immensely convoluted history, that omission is understandable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - though not easy to follow at times 11 Mar 2014
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fairly comprehensive account of the crusades taking in all of the major actions in the middle east as well as the crusading activities in France, Spain and the Baltic, before conclulding with a review of the continuing influence of, and references to crusading in more modern times, for example the use of the word crusade in reference to the Jarrow march of 1938, as well as George Bush's infamous use of the term in relation to the USA's response to 9/11.

As a general reader there was much for me to learn in these pages, but I did not find this a particularly easy read - the profusion of characters can be a little difficult to follow and I frequently had to go back a few pages to follow the thread of the story.

The author has certainly made a fair attempt to cover both the Catholic view and that of Muslims and other peoples subject to crusading activity, and makes clear the role of secular power and motives as well as those inspired by religous zeal.

An interesting book, and it is well worth persevering if it becomes a little difficult to follow at times..
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written
Published 3 months ago by RevdRMBWest
3.0 out of 5 stars Holy Warriors
I bought this quite some time ago and I'm still ploughing through it. It's stuffed full of information which makes reading it like trudging through molasses.
Published 7 months ago by Tuscany
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction
I read this book as a General overview as I will be studying this Module Next Year. It is great as this. Read more
Published on 8 Sep 2011 by Medieval Lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Phillips' new book is a 5 star purchase
Bought this for my son's A2 exam. This is Prof Phillips' new book and it's a must buy for the Crusades. Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2011 by ragspeed
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Warriors - why you need to buy this.
Having listened to Jonathon Phillips discuss this topic and read previous works, this is a superb combination of his dynamic style and intelligent prose. Read more
Published on 11 Nov 2010 by C Hallam
4.0 out of 5 stars God wills it!
Great book depicting the crusading era. As you would expect the majority of the book is dedicated to the various crusades to the near east. Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2010 by Jacks
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
This was a fabulous read that brought together and clarified all of the various crusades. It's not a novel but it has all of the excitement of one.
David Snell
Published on 2 Oct 2010 by Mr. David John Snell
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative primer
Anybody looking for a primer on the Crusades needs look no further than this excellent work by Jonathan Phillips. Read more
Published on 5 July 2010 by Steve Keen
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to expectations
Bought this on the basis it wasn't a 'heavy' read! Well that's exactly what it is. Dry and slow - more for academics. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2010 by Gareth Morgan
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