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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2007
This book, as remarked by the reviewers below is very concise, but what else would a `Brief History Of...' be if anything but?
The book does indeed pre-suppose some knowledge on the readers' part, but this is easily overcome by following Hindley's superb narrative.
One virtually flies through the centuries of conflict, and the key events are expanded upon.
It really is a very good starting point for the beginner, and will encourage the curios to further reading; Runciman's Magnum Opus on the Crusades or Christopher Tyreman's ambitious effort. However, if you do buy this and enjoy it as much as I have, I suggest The First Crusade by Thomas Asbridge as your next port of call.
Further, I would also encourage the reader not to interpret the Crusades in as contemporary sense as other reviewers may suggest, but `enjoy' the period in isolation.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2004
This is an easy-to-read, concise introduction to The Crusades over the centuries that manages to deal with the main issues in surprising depth. All the main players are here. Maybe there could have been a little bit more info on the battle tactics and a few more maps, but then again, it is a BRIEF history and it does it with panache.
Thankfully, Hindley also refuses to take the simplistic view of some of his peers that Western success was a foregone conclusion - it wasn't.
Definitely recommended for newcomers to the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2012
Hindley's style as an historian is that of a story teller rather than an analyst. This makes the narrative fairly easy to follow, though the profusion of names were too much for this reader, so I only picked up a handful of details.

Hindley notes that certain conflicts carry an ordinal number to them, even though they do not reflect the actual number of skirmishes and battles. However, he chooses to stick with the conventional numbering, with more descriptive titles for those that are not afforded a number.

What follows is an account of conquest, bloodshed and ideology. As informative as it is with regards to the personalities and the large scale military aims of each side, I could not help but think that there was a lack of critique about the motivations behind the Crusades. There are a few references dotted about, mostly towards the end of the book, but these are few and far between. For example, he states:

"The ideal which had first inspired men to go on armed pilgrimage to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom had always been a matter of mixed motives,"

"...the wars fought in the name of religion became increasingly embroiled in politics and the rhetoric of crusade became part of the vocabulary of international diplomacy."

Early in the book, Hindley notes that the Crusades were not endorsed by all catholics, with Thomas Aquinas opposing such ventures. This is, I think, quite significant as he was probably the most influential thinker in christianity & catholicism in the millennium between Augustine and Martin Luther. This demonstrates that then to regard this as "christian v muslim" is to oversimplify affairs. That is not to defend the Crusades in any way, but the particular expression of what passed for christianity at that time is unrecognisable in today's world.

However, it is clear, though Hindley seems not to want to emphasise the point too much, that the "theological" ideas behind the Crusades were those of the concept of the `holy place' - namely, Jerusalem and that of the sale of indulgences. Those familiar with the history of christianity will, of course, recognise that it was the latter of these two which triggered Martin Luther into posting his 95 theses and kickstarting the Reformation. I just wonder how many lives might have been spared had the Reformation come about some 500 years earlier.

As an introduction to the Crusades, this is a very good book and I would recommend it. By the end, I was just trying to finish it, rather than finding it fascinating as the history seemed to be repeating itself, but that is no fault of the author's. But the lack of critical analysis was a slight disappointment, with almost all of it being reserved for the last few pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2012
I am currently reading History at university, with particular emphasis on the Medieval world. My personal area of expertise is the history of Medieval France and Britain, however over the last few years I have developed a fascination with the Holy Land, largely borne out of living in such a multicultural country (Britain). Though it is now muted in comparison to the past, I have still witnessed a sense of Christianity vs Islam in my country; largely people defending Britain as a Christian country in the wake of mass migration over the past 150 years. The sort of inquisitive nature I possess led me to discover the route of this animosity, and the starting point was this book, which I have now owned for a few years. Even so, it remains my first port of call for any Crusades-related knowledge, as it is succinctly presented in such a linear and streamlined fashion that Hindley has created the ultimate starting block for any avid Crusader historian.

I would certainly recommend this book - especially when you consider the price - as it offers a comprehensive overview of one of history's most controversial periods. Not only this, but Hindley's writing compels you to explore in greater detail, and since purchasing this book I have upgraded my own collection of Crusades-related literature to quite a healthy quota!

A definite 5/5 from me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2014
If prepared to work at it you will learn about and understand crusades - not for the faint-heated though ti is dense and needs perseverance at times.
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on 13 April 2011
I am very impressed by this book. It is very informative and coherently describes a rather confusing period in history. For a "brief history" it contains a large amount of facts and details that distinguish the characters and make the events memorable for the reader. It is also very readable, a real page-turner; I can hardly put it down! What I do miss are more maps.
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on 2 January 2015
Got this to read as I played through Assassin's Creed as I realised embarrassingly just how little I knew about the crusades.
Good solid book with enough depth and detail to satisfy. More maps would be good though.
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on 30 October 2011
All as described, content of book was exactly what I required. Well packaged. Arrived in plenty of time. Buy quite a few books from Amazon and its sellers and the quality is almost always as stated. Highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2015
Not a very good book for several reasons:

Despite the author's statement that its a "brief" history, he ventures into details wherever he likes without any cohesion. His general outline of chapters/topics is not coherent and is quite weak, leaving the reader confused as to what happened when and who went where and so on. A very confusing read indeed.

The author is clearly of a biased opinion, and he states it in several instances. His work is a history of the Crusades from a European point-of-view. He didn't venture into those "crusaded" nations of the European (the pagans and the other Christian sects) and the Islamic worlds as much as he ventured into the "crusaders" - with an 20/80 of focus respectively in my opinion. i.e. he downplays many atrocities of the crusaders (even omits a few) by barely giving them a sentence or two while amplifying any nearly-similar atrocity committed by the crusaded in full paragraphs and/or "clever" assertions and comments.

He has many inaccuracies, whether in terms of events and dates (I am speaking in crossing the book with other sources in relation to the events with the Muslims), or even in terms of the quoted words/names/events/cities in other languages (which a better research would have eliminated).

All in all, I do not recommend this book as a summary of the Crusades, nor even as an introductory. It is to be skimmed through at a quick pace for those who are already familiar with the history of the Crusades, and maybe its use would be one of academia, where the index might be employed to pin down characters and events in an easier manner and research them further using other sources.
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on 24 February 2013
This is a concise easy to follow history of the crusades.I bought it before visiting Turkey and found it very relevant and helpful.
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