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The First Crusade [Paperback]

Steven Runciman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £16.99
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Book Description

13 Dec 2004
, first published in 2005, is justly acclaimed as the most complete and fascinating account of the historic journey to save the Holy Land from the infidel.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (13 Dec 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521611482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521611480
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,007,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'This is one of history's most extraordinary episodes made extraordinarily real. Written by an expert blessed with lucidity and styles … a story that has everything.' The Church Times

'It reads magnificently … as an example of sustained and intelligent narrative it could hardly be bettered. Sir Steven's great achievement was to make a complicated subject appear simple and then to write it up beautifully … No one is likely to surpass Sir Steven's powers of synthesis or the masterly way he writes.' History Today

'This abridgement, first published in 1980 has kept all the essential information and ease of style which marked the larger version.' Contemporary Reviews

Book Description

This book is justly acclaimed as the most complete and fascinating account of the historic journey to save the Holy Land from the infidel. This abridgment makes accessible to a wider readership one of the most compelling historical narratives.

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On a February day in the year AD 638 the Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem, riding upon a white camel. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Anthony Beevor this is for you! 9 Jun 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
As a graduate in Byzantine History I have always known of the reputation of Sir Steven Runciman and his use as a source for this period. Yet with the pressure of a degree I guess you don't have the time to appreciate the book for it's flow and style. This was the first book I bought on kindle and I must admit I was hooked. It describes the crusades with all the greatness of an epic without glorifying the brutality of the movement. He is slightly bias towards the Byzantines, but then again I think he is largely correct on that score (but that should't really surprise you).
My one criticism is that the kindle edition should have provided the maps for this period as I found myself trying to look up on the net some of the more obscure towns in Northern Mesopotamia.
My one hope is that kindle will convert the rest of his work to this format, especially as this is only volume one.
For those who enjoy their narrative, well-researched History in the style of Antony Beevor, this classic is a must.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical as well as Romantic 28 April 2004
By Margaret A. Foster - Published on
Steven Runciman is well noted for his three-volume 'History of the Crusades' published in 1951. This paperback edition is an abridged excerpt of that work that focuses on specifically the First Crusade.
This is a much 'romanticized' narration of the First Crusades, as Mr. Runciman is well known for inscribing his passion for this event into his work. But do not let that stop you from reading this account. Mr. Runciman has added detail to this volume using quotes from actual chroniclers of the time to build and augment his story.
This abridged paperback gives you contemporary descriptions of the political climate, the backgrounds of the main players, overviews of many of the campaigns and battles of the event and weaves it all into an interesting story filled with zealots, nobility, passion, intrigue and fire. Reading this you can easily get swept into the spiritual fervor and single minded determination that these people must have had.
You also feel the impact of the battles and massacres in his descriptions of the sieges and taking of the various cities. Mr. Runciman does a very good job of making sure the reader becomes involved in the details of events as the Crusaders storm through the Holy Land to the city of Jerusalem.
There is no bibliography in the volume I have nor are there any pictures or maps. The 'Introductory Note' states 'The book is published without reference notes nor a bibliography. If readers wish to consult the sources, primary and secondary, on which my account is based, may I refer them to the original work, in which a full apparatus criticus is provided? A recent edition is still in print.'
For a very well written and passionate account of the First Crusade this book will provide a good read as well as an historical overview of the event.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good survey, beautiful book 23 July 2002
By Glenn McDorman - Published on
This abridgement couples Runciman's well narrated and concise account of the First Crusade with some beautiful illustrations of the Holy Land, medieval warfare, and Byzantine, Latin, and Muslim art. It is a shame, however, that amongst all these wonderful illustrations, there is not one detailed map of the Holy Land and Asia Minor. Still, the book is well worth having and reading. If you haven't already read the unabridged edition you may want to read that as well.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars down to earth description of motives and moves 17 May 2000
By mathilde de gardin - Published on
This Canto abridged version gives in nearly 200 pages a good account of the motives of the "west" to start the crusades, the reasons why the Byzantines agreed, the very indivual human motives of the kings, popes, clergyman, nobles, and poor. It also spells out what it takes to get (mostly on foot) from France to Jerusalem, with a large mass of poorly prepared people. A fascinating account.
If you have romantic ideas about the crusades they will have been replaced by solid facts out of the everydays crusaders lives at the end of this book. You'll have a better grasp of this era as a whole, and the place of the crusades in it.
Sometimes there are more scholary details offered then I really need in an abridged version. But it still is a good read, that offers you the flavor, the look and feel, of the past.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Runciman's readable 16 July 2005
By Readalots - Published on
The First Crusade comes alive in this small book by S. Runciman. (It is apparently an extract from his much longer history of the Crusades.) This is a great work that offers the "high points" of the late 11th century epic between West and East.

Runciman's writing style is very readable. The book may be read in a short time. He tells the Crusade's story chronologically using considerable topical details. (There is no sourcing in the book which keeps it from attaining the 5th star.)

If you want the main characters' names, the dates, and places that made Crusade history, Runciman has them. This book inspired further reading about the Templars and Hospitalers.

This book is a must read for Crusade reader and those interested in Mid Eastern history. It also speaks to early Christian-Muslim military action.

The book is recommendable.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Abridged Version, Beware! 15 Mar 2006
By James C. Easton - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Had I read carefully the other reviews I would have been aware of the abridgement before I purchased this version. For many this will be fine, but the introduction has been severely cut and all of the critical apparatus, including the bibliography is absent. The original is a classic. This a butchered classic.
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