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The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land Paperback – 19 Aug 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; 1st Edition edition (19 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416526080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416526087
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 475,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`Powerful, assured and epic . . . departs radically - and successfully - from tradition . . . brilliantly exposes Muslim strategies and motivations' --James McConnachie, Sunday Times

`A compelling narrative that resonates inescapably with contemporary events . . . A masterful conclusion' --Malise Ruthven, Observer

'Asbridge can't help but tell a ripping yarn, often breezily dramatic, whipping the narrative along' --The Times

'Exciting, stirring, moving, horrific and a whole lot of other things as well . . . this book gives us narrative history at its best' --Scotsman

`A dramatic and powerful look at both sides of the story . . . Our choice of the best recent books' --Sunday Times

'Compelling . . . Asbridge's narrative builds into a haunting and thought-provoking story [that] sheds light upon the present as well as the past' --Helen Castor, Guardian

'Stuffed with splendidly colourful anecdotes' --Sunday Times

'A glorious, appalling journey into a past age and a vicious metaphor for present woes' --The Times

'Asbridge has drawn on his extensive knowledge of the subject to write a wide-ranging history of the wars'
--BBC History Magazine

About the Author

Thomas Asbridge is Reader in Medieval History at Queen Mary University of London, and an internationally renowned expert on the history of the Crusades. His acclaimed The First Crusade is also available from Simon & Schuster.


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a popular introduction to the Crusades that strikes a perfect balance between academic rigor and the expectations of a lay audience. It offers solid narrative and some analysis, while avoiding excessive proofs and obscure controversies. Best of all, it is simply fun to read and never unacceptably heavy.

The Crusades began as a kind of idealistic call to arms. When you look at it, the entire enterprise looks insanely impossible: a bunch of aristocrats, knights and their support infantries decide to travel to nearly the end of the world, to dislodge the far more numerous Muslims from Christian holy sites (Jerusalem, etc.) Against all odds, the first Crusade essentially lives up to its ideals, conquering a huge swath of territories and establishing independent kingdoms and Duchies in the mid east (largely in the territories of modern Syria and Israel). It is simply amazing that, virtually without supply support and lacking coherent leadership, they charged into battle with little plans and won. Many said it was God's will.

In a way it was colonial, but the author is at pains to prove that it was their ideals that drove them. He demonstrates the changes in theology required, including "just war" by Christians, but also promises of salvation from sin to varying degrees and under more or less clarified obligations. The twists of logic and the hypocrisy of land-hungry princes, I was convinced, were outweighed by their religious purpose. After all, what they wanted to do was far too ambitious, though to be fair they lacked clear and practical knowledge about the areas they were attacking; besides, God and the talisman of the "true cross" supported them.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been interested in 'The Crusades' since I did a general studies course on the subject 40+ years ago (during my Physics degree, of all things!).

I don't propose saying anything more about the excellence of this book - the other 29 reviewers (so far) have said it all - absolutely excellent book about the Crusades!

What I would like to draw out is the fact that this book falls very neatly (and nicely!) between such relatively short introductory texts such as 'The Cross and the Crescent' by Malcolm Billings(*), and 'The Crusades' by Anthony Bridge(*) and more academic studies such as 'A History of the Crusades' by Steven Runcieman. It's a perfect general, but detailed introduction to the Crusades with a nice balance between academic rigour and entertaining anecdote. Wonderful!

(*) Both of these books are excellent in their own right.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first book I have read on the crusades and I have to say I was a little intimidated by it's length. As it turns out, there was no need to worry. Somehow Asbridge manages to pack in a remarkeable amount of detail spanning several centuries, without overwhelming the reader. The book is packed full of memorable details, - such as Saladin's troops sneaking supply ships into besieged Acre by placing pigs on deck, thereby tricking the crusaders into thinking that they were Christian ships - thrilling accounts of bloody battles, and fascinating big picture analysis of the religious and political motivations of the key players on both sides. The author has managed something that few other historians do: a comprehensive account of a complex period, which is still a joy and easy to read.

An excellent introduction. My only fear is that I may now struggle to find other books on the subject which match up.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to admit having had this book a while and I kept putting off reading it. Reasons: By an 'academic', quite a heavy read by the looks, and just a general worry that it would be too much to end the day with. But that was swiftly dispelled on getting into the first chapter.

Asbridge literally not only takes you on the crusades he then turns the tables and shows you the Islamic face of it all. You do see the two sides of the fight.

No spoilers here in this review, but certainly it opens up so many questions. Was it the desperation of an 11th Century Pope that really opened up the wound that today we face, that shows itself in so much terrorism and hate?

Just the fact that Jerusalem was a sacred place to Muslims as well as Christians was something new to me. The contrast of the slaughter carried out by the First Crusaders that was not repeated by the jihad leader, Saladin, many years later speaks volumes.

There is enough background into the politics, geography, battles and, yes, some gory details to make this an actually entertaining as well as educating and informative read.
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Format: Hardcover
Thomas Asbridge's book on the crusades was an absolutely incrediable read. I must tell you that since Ashbridge was an academic, I was afraid that this book would be unreadble; just a list of facts on top of another.

I was entirely mistaken. Asbridge wrote with such drama that it was hard to put the book down. I took it everywhere, and when i was determined to finish a chapter, and put the book down, I often found myself halfway through the new chapter and instead of doing my work. A superb book.

The best part was the character of the participants: pious Godrey, greedy Baldwin, sickly King Baldwin IV, awe-inspiring Saladin, courageous Richard the Lionheart, and decitiful Fredrick II. Great men, a great story, and a great storyteller. What more could be asked of a book? Asbridge deserves 5 stars all the way.
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