, 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.
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.
If you have romantic ideas about the crusades they will have been replaced by solid facts out of the everydays crusaders lives at the end of this book.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.