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The Second Crusade 1148: Disaster Outside Damascus (Campaign) [Paperback]

David Nicolle , Christa Hook
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

9 Jan 2009 Campaign (Book 204)
Despite minor setbacks, Christian Europe had enjoyed success on previous Crusader campaigns. Pursuing an ambitious but politically flawed strategy against an Islamic state friendly to their Crusader neighbours, the knights of the Second Crusade suffered a crushing defeat at Damascus in 1148. This battle shook the Crusaders' belief in their military supremacy, and revived the Islamic states, marking a crucial turning point in the history of the Crusades.

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The Second Crusade 1148: Disaster Outside Damascus (Campaign) + The Third Crusade 1191: Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and the Struggle for Jerusalem (Campaign) + The Fourth Crusade 1202-04 (Campaign)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (9 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846033543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846033544
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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David Nicolle is a recognised authority on the Crusades, and delivers a good quality book here. As with most other books on the subject, the emphasis is on the European perspective, but of all the military historians who cover this era, its my opinion that Nicolle delivers a more balanced view than most. --Battlegames

About the Author

Born in 1944, David Nicolle worked in the BBC's Arabic service for a number of years before gaining an MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and a doctorate from Edinburgh University. He has written numerous books and articles on medieval and Islamic warfare, and has been a prolific author of Osprey titles for many years. The author lives in Leicestershire, UK.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm, okay I guess. 29 May 2011
We all know what we get when we buy an Osprey Campaign book; a little background history, an overview of the forces involved, an account of the campaign itself and then a bit of a post mortem as to the effects, the conclusions etc.. and this book is no exception.

Of course, with a fairly slim paperback you are always going to run the risk of cramming a lot of infomation into a small space and the author then walks a precarious tightrope between too much and too little. I'm afraid for me this tips over into too much. Surely no-one still regards the Crusades as a glorious expedition and a proud campaign of liberation to release the Christian church and the Holy Land from the forces of evil in the form of sinister Saracens, yet even so David Nicolle's text seemed to be slightly imbalanced in favour of the Damascene forces (and their allies) defending against the shaky alliance of attacking Crusaders. Western chroniclers recording events are often dismissed out of hand yet the accounts of their Eastern counterparts are accepted as accurate. My preference would have been for the presentation of both accounts, where they vary, and an acceptance of the author that the truth varies with the witness's viewpoint. I think the reader could have been trusted to make up their own mind.

As a Western reader I confess I find Islamic names difficult to pronounce and remember, especially when trying to deal with a lot of very similar new names. There were a lot of complex relationships involved in the forces of Moslems, Turks, Seljuks etc.. and I found it very tough to understand who was who and what their role was when Mr Nicolle suddenly introduced a complex web of connections between several leading figures. After reading it three times I was still no closer!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Siege? What Disaster? 21 Jan 2009
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Dr. David Nicolle has done a great many medieval warfare titles for Osprey and by now, most readers know what to expect from him: a scholarly, well-written account with a faint pro-Muslim bias and very little in the way of military details or analysis. Osprey's Campaign No. 204, The Second Crusade: Disaster Outside Damascus, remains true to form. What I found most confusing about this volume was the author's use of the terms "siege" and "disaster" to describe this campaign. By definition, a siege occurs when a city is surrounded and food supplies into it are curtailed or disrupted, but in this case, the Crusader forces never succeeded in surrounding Damascus or even preventing Muslim reinforcements from entering the city. Granted, other sources have described Damascus as a siege, but it seems that the author never bothered to question this characterization. As for the `disaster' part, it's difficult to see that either. Clearly, the Crusade failed in its military objectives to re-conquer either Edessa or to capture Damascus, but these setbacks did not result in any apparent heavy military losses or loss of territories. This battle was not like the Battle of Hattin in 1187 where the bulk of the Crusader army was destroyed, leading to the loss of Jerusalem. In this case, both participating monarchs - the German King Konrad III and French King Louis VII returned home and the author provides no data to support the idea that Christian casualties were crippling. Taken together, these questionable assumptions suggest that the author wants to depict the campaign as a harbinger of doom for the Crusader States, which seems to be more of a subjective and emotional conclusion than one based on facts. There is no doubt that the Second Crusade came up a cropper, but this volume offers only one interpretation of its outcome.

The author spends 12 pages in the introduction and chronology providing the background of the Second Crusade. As he states, the proximate cause was the Islamic reconquest of the city of Edessa, which sparked a desire in Western Europe to lend military aid to the endangered Crusader States. He also notes that the Muslim forces in the area were not that strong and divided into three main factions, while the creation of the Templar and Hospitaller military orders had increased the defensive capabilities of the Crusader States. The section on opposing commanders provides some insight into the leadership but the 10-page section on opposing forces is almost useless. The author makes minimal effort to comment on the possible size or composition of the opposing forces at Damascus. The opposing plans sections reads like this: Christians determined to attack somewhere, decide on Damascus, while Muslims wait and see.

The campaign narrative itself is 39 pages long, but much covers the Crusaders march through Byzantine lands, leaving barely 6-7 pages to cover the actual Battle of Damascus. It is apparent reading this account, that the German crusaders under King Konrad III came to grief in Anatolia and the French were only slightly better off; the real failure of the crusade was the inability to reach the intended operational area with sufficient combat power to achieve anything meaningful. Once they reached the Crusader States with the remnants of their armies, Konrad and Louis agreed to local suggestions to go after Damascus, under the expectation that it was low-hanging fruit. Instead - and Dr. Nicolle, you should have been doing this analysis - the Muslim military leader in Damascus was able to rally enough militia to put up a stout resistance on the approaches to the city. Faced with an armed populace of a major city and reports of an approaching Muslim relief army, the outnumbered Crusaders opted to withdraw before they had even established a siege. Again, the fact that Damascus was not invested and that not a single assault was mounted against its walls, suggests that there never was a siege. Once the crusaders realized that there would be no cheap victory, they quickly skedaddled back to their own territory. The author concludes that, "the Crusader States were now practically exhausted, militarily and financially..." What? The entire invasion and `siege' lasted little more than a week and he mentions that the King of Jerusalem only had to pay his troops if they served in the field for extended periods. He even mentions that the Crusaders managed to capture the important city of Ascalon a few years later, which seems to contradict this conclusion. At any rate, the lack of analysis has led the author to make conclusions that are not supported.

Graphically, The Second Crusade is rather mediocre, as many of the Medieval warfare titles are. I realize that it is very difficult to obtain decent photographs and illustrations for these subjects, but there has to be something better than providing photos of various objects ranging from wall paintings, to ceramic beakers to a "glazed ceramic bottle stopper." These are the kind of artifacts that might excite a medieval scholar such as Dr. Nicolle, but leave most readers who pick up these volumes for the military content utterly stupefied. In terms of maps, there are five 2-D maps and two 3-D BEV maps. Most of the 2-D maps are rather crowded and show strategic areas of operation, with only the last two offering details that relate to the actual attack on Damascus. The three battle scenes by Christa Hook (King Louis VII takes refuge on a rock during the Battle of Mount Cadmus, 8 January 1148; Anur tries to persuade al-Findalawi not to go with the Ahdath militia to fight the invading crusaders, 25 July 1148; a crusader supply unit is ambushed outside Damascus, 27 July 1148) are rather crude - as they always seems to be in these Medieval warfare volumes. On the plus side, the author provides a detailed 4-page bibliography, which far exceeds the norm for Osprey volumes.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Crusade 1148 14 Aug 2013
By William T. Gore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Campaign Series is a great series for those interested in military history. It had wonderful colour illustrations and maps recreating a
wonderful period in European conquest. A pity the West couldn't hold on to the Holy Lands, and an even greater tragedy that the Easter
Roman Empire, later the Byzantine Empire, didn't last to protect Europe, Iberia, and North Africa from Muslim invation. All of which, including the Levant and Anatolia, where Christian Lands at the time of the Roman Empire during the reign of the Emperor Constantine.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second Crusade 16 Aug 2012
By C. Repicky - Published on Amazon.com
Good transaction. Quick shipment. Product arrived exactly as described. The book like all other Osprey material remains top notch with good artwork, and rapid to the point details about the subject.
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