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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction
As others have said this is a great introduction to the topic. You'll learn all about folks you've heard of like Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart but also some who perhaps you haven't such as Nur el Din or Tancred.
The book is a quick and easy read written in a light style but still information dense. You learn a lot in a short time and if you're interest is piqued...
Published on 30 Oct 2002 by Nasher

versus
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a lighter approach to a serious subject
jones has produced a fabulous book here, and i love it! it's both humourous and informative at the same time. his passion for the middle ages is evident and makes the subject so much more fascinating! i recommend this book to any terry jones fans or medieval fans!
Published on 15 May 1999


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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction, 30 Oct 2002
This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
As others have said this is a great introduction to the topic. You'll learn all about folks you've heard of like Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart but also some who perhaps you haven't such as Nur el Din or Tancred.
The book is a quick and easy read written in a light style but still information dense. You learn a lot in a short time and if you're interest is piqued then you know what you need to know to find out more. As long as long as you don't mind the sometimes humorous approach taken by the authors it easily earns its 4 stars.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In War We're Tough And Able...., 18 Aug 2013
This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
This is a review of the book "Crusades" by Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, not the DVD. I'm not sure why Amazon have lumped the two sets of reviews together as the book is not a word for word transcript of the television program, but an intelligent and beautifully written history book in its own right.

Who would have thought that an ex Python could actually do such a good job of summarising such a long and complicated period of history. As I understand it he is now a professor but prior to reading this book I wondered whether that was an honourary title from the University of Wallamaloo.

On the contrary Terry Jones (and his co-author Alan Ereira) show an excellent understanding of the Crusades and have been able to condense that history down into a short and very readable book that provides the perfect introduction to the period. The writing style is informal but informative, a real pleasure to read. It covers all the major Crusades explaining the motivations behind them and the individuals involved.

Neat little hand drawn maps help to illustrate the book, showing how the Crusader States changed over the years. In other places little side boxes describe aspects of life and other little snippets of information relevant to history being discussed.

Although there are more comprehensive books on the Crusades (most notably by Thomas Asbridge) this small paperback is a real delight. Anyone new to the history of the Crusades or who just wants a light but informative guide to the period can't go wrong with this book. Very highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine introduction to a fascinating part of history, 13 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
A great beginners guide to the Crusades. Whilst the book is a few years old now I purchased it again recently to give to someone who has never studied the Crusades or even had a basic knowledge. Jones and Ereira have a lovely prose style that makes it suitable for non-academics of all ages. If Crusades are still on the history syllabuses I would recommend this for students.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crusades: accele'rated' version, 19 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
An excellent introduction into this somewhat "heavy" topic, all packed into a paperback. It offers a concise and matter of fact interpretation of both the Muslim and Christian perpectives. But unlike many history books, it is light reading, often with 'laugh-out-loud' moments. I missed the TV series, but having read the book, can imagine that it was also well received. I now feel ready to tackle the heavy texts...
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20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent primer on the crusades for all readers., 26 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
This book gives a fascinating account of the period when crusading fever gripped Western Europe. It is vital reading for all Muslims who should know exactly why in 1096, the forces of Christendom marched thousands of miles to Al-Quds. After reading this, I would strongly urge people to read Amin Maalouf's account 'The Crusades Through Arab Eyes' to understand the Muslim perspective of the Crusades.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pythons view of the Crusades, 5 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
No time is wasted in telling the story of all the cruades from one right down to five. Considering this, this book is very concise and yet very informative at the same times. If it suffers at all, it is that a lot of the humour of the TV series is lost. However, this is a great first book on the subject.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book, 23 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
I watched the BBC series of this book so it was a no brainer in buying it.Its an excellent read and inter-laced with Terry Jones dry wit and humour. Get a copy and see what your descendants got up to in the name of God!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's a thousand miles to Jerusalem, and it's all uphill", 7 Sep 2009
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crusades [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
It's strange that at the time of writing we have to purchase an American copy of this 1995 series, despite it being a joint-production by the BBC and the A&E Network. Still, it's pleasing to report that all is present and correct, and prospective purchasers should not be put off by buying this region one edition (so long as you have a multi-region DVD player, of course).

There are four fifty-minute episodes of this series. Thankfully, it's no dumbed-down docudrama, but an imaginative take on the history of the Crusades with an emphasis on original sources. An instance of this fresh view is demonstrated by the very opening, which focuses on the cannibalism practised by the first Crusaders on the road to Jerusalem. One of Terry Jones's first questions is, `What made the Crusaders into monsters?' (This issue, of course, has contemporary resonances with the events of 9/11 and Abu Ghraib happening since the series was broadcast.)

The imaginative production is evinced by the clever way of showing the main players in the Crusades' story. These are reproduced in a quasi-mosaic Byzantine form, using anonymous actors with painted closed eyes. It's very effective as they act out the symbolic moments in the story. There are also many contemporary pictorial references throughout, in which Terry Jones makes the odd appearance, with the addition of some computer graphics. Even the music by Jose Nieto has a contemporary feel reminiscent of Orff's `Carmina Burana'. The talking heads chosen for this production are first class and include theologian Karen Armstrong, historian Sir Steven Runciman, and the animated Jonathan Riley-Smith: give this man a series!

Terry Jones has proved himself as a historian in his own right, but humour can never be far away when his presence is near. This is both expressed in the script ("Knights had no teddy bears: no wonder they lashed out in a crisis" or "It's a thousand miles to Jerusalem and it's all uphill") and on screen, when he explores the importance of washerwomen. Another instance occurs when we witness an anachronous medieval cinema newsreel that implores its audience of peasants to "Go to Jerusalem!" The projectionist is a bishop, and instead of ushers dishing out ice cream, soldiers hand out cloth crosses.

In the first episode (`Pilgrims in Arms') Terry tells the story of the background to the Crusades, the `People's Crusade' that resulted, and the knights/mercenaries that arrived in Constantinople. From this point, Terry follows the events on the ground, as in the second part he becomes footsore in Anatolia (I'm impressed with his Turkish), visits Edessa, witnesses the siege of Antioch, and assesses Arab civilisation in Damascus and Aleppo. Terry was lucky to have been able to film in Syria and Israel. Jerusalem is finally reached, three years the Crusaders set out, two-thirds of them dying in the process. This series should have been watched by all those neo-cons who called for a new crusade against the Muslim world. Professor Riley-Smith says at one point that, "Anyone who deals with Crusade history has to get used to a combination of piety and brutality."

One downside is that half of the series is concerned solely with the first Crusade. This is understandable, but means that so much has to be crammed into the remainder of the series. (Could we not have had more episodes?) The third episode (`Jihad') moves forward fifty years to 144 with the attack on Edessa provoking the third Crusade. Zengi, Nur-ed-Din and Saladin make their appearances, as do the Assassins, the world's first suicide terrorists. The massive fortresses of Krak des Chevalier and Kerak are featured, as is the owner of the latter, Reynald de Chatillon. It was his depredations that united the Arab world under Saladin, but by this time we are in the 1180s. The cramming alluded to earlier means that there can be a lack of feeling for the passing of time in the overall context. For when we are told that Jerusalem falls, this is eighty-eight years later!

With the Crusaders last outpost, Tyre, surrounded, is this the end of the Crusades? The fourth and final episode introduces us to the Third Crusade with Richard the Lion Heart, Philip of France, and their short-term successes. Ironically, in the west Saladin came to be seen as the hero of chivalry. Terry visits his tomb - or rather tombs - but for the Arabs, Saladin is surprisingly not the greatest hero of the Crusades. Instead, they venerate a name barely known in Europe: Baybars. The last twenty minutes of the series deals with Baybars and the Fourth Crusade with the eradication of the last Crusader kingdom.

As can be seen, Terry Jones covers the main points, but has no time to explore the wider Crusader culture, the interaction with the Muslim world, the `going native'. Nor does he spend much time looking at the economic and commercial links or the agricultural work undertaken by the Crusaders.

"Anyone who believes the Crusades were bold and heroic needs to justify the cold-blooded murder of men, women, and children who were too much of a nuisance to keep alive. No Muslim army had ever treated Christians with this mechanical barbarity." This is not necessarily a symbol of anti-Muslim feeling on the part of the Crusaders, as they often treated Christian civilians equally appallingly when besieging towns back in Europe. At the end, Terry argues that the Crusades were an ingredient in the creation of Islamic fanaticism. They were a total failure, their net result being "the total opposite of what they had set out to achieve."

Extras include a very basic timeline and a biography of Terry Jones.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a lighter approach to a serious subject, 15 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
jones has produced a fabulous book here, and i love it! it's both humourous and informative at the same time. his passion for the middle ages is evident and makes the subject so much more fascinating! i recommend this book to any terry jones fans or medieval fans!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Crusades (BBC Books) (Paperback)
Interesting
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