2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (Paperback)
I read this book as a General overview as I will be studying this Module Next Year. It is great as this.
Unlike a lot of academic works this is not dry and tedious for the most part, though sometimes the author does decide to spend many pages giving detailed accounts of sieges.
On the simplest level the book is not just an account of an endless round of battles, it introduces key figures, explores their lives and careers, and examines how and why they contributed to the crusades. Taken as a whole, it is an engaging and readable human narrative of the entire crusading period from the Late Eleventh to the Sixteenth Centuries.
On a personal level, I found the some of the information very surprising. Admittedly I had a very limited knowledge of the Crusades as a whole, but I found that this book caused me to re-examine by opinion of the era.
It is difficult to maintain objectivity when recounting such a controversial period, yet Phillips largely manages to do so. In doing so he reveals many facts and incidents that do not seem to make it into television documentaries, which can be rather one-sided.
Phillips demonstrates, for instance, there were many atrocities committed on both sides. The sack of Jerusalem in 1099 by the Crusaders, resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims and Jews is well known. The sacking of Acre in 1291 by Muslim forces in which thousands of Christian innocents including Monks and Nuns were slaughtered is not so widely publicised, yet was no less devastating.
It is also shown that Muslims were as much driven by religious fervour and fanaticism, and sometimes simple blind hatred as the Crusaders, and also that the idea of offensive Holy War pre-existed the Crusades.
On the downside 'Holy Warriors' sometimes lacks depth, for example in places the author states that battles were lost or offensives failed but does not always give adequate explanation for the reasons behind such failures.
Still an excellent introduction and a great starting point for further study.