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4.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2010
I shall keep this short, which the author did not do. The book is riveting. It is an all-encompassing history that reads like a novel, full of fascinating characters with all the strengths and weaknesses of humankind. There are heroes and villains on both sides of the conflict - characters like Nur-Al-Din for example, or Bohemond. The political and religious background of the Crusades are investigated, and the rôles of the various Popes and Bernard of Clairvaux. The social organisation of the Crusader states - I could go on and on. My only gripe (it is not really a complaint) is that the book is so long and so involving it is keeping me from other great books that are sitting waiting to be read, but I cannot leave off reading it. I am not even up to the confrontation between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin yet, so I know there is great stuff still to come, and I am resisting the temptation to skip a few chapters. It really is as good as that. A good buy and a great read. Highly recommended.
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on 26 January 2014
I have read about the crusades in school and yes I have seen all kind of movies but this book really shines a new light on the story of Crusades. A fantastic read, which give you good insight how life was during the Crusades. Battle between Christians and Muslims for Holy Land but in the end it was much more than that... Internal intrigues, all aiming for personal power in the name of God. If you look at wat is happening now in the Middle East, it seems that nothing has changed in 1000 years.
In order to understand more of the situation and battles between Muslims also in the Middle East, this is a must-read.
Just read this book, you will be surprised how good it is!
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on 7 January 2012
The era of the crusades is roughly 1000 years in the past but still echoes daily
in our lives. Muslim/Christian relations especially after 9/11 are at an all time low.

According to Asbridge however in this superb account, the crusades had nothing to do with modern suppositions of racism, hatred, capitalism, imperialism or any other "ism", that thrive today.
The crusades simply put were a way to avoid hell and purify the soul, by saving
the Holy land from "Infidels" and glorifying Jesus Christ.

Selfish? Let's be honest if we were assured of going to heaven and
avoiding eternal flame, there's not much we wouldn't do.

The modern presumption (that relates these 1000 years) according to Asbridge is a convenient parallelism used as fuel (by both sides) to help fire todays hostilities.

After reading this account I cannot help but agree with Asbridge.
It's easy to understand why the events of a past millenium can be interpreted this
way, but I challenge anyone with doubts to read this book.

If Muslims had invaded my country 1000 years ago and butchered the indigenous
population in the name of god, I'm sure my interpretation would be different.

After being enlightened by Mr Asbridge however I also hope I would have the presence of mind to analyse the facts and reach a fair conclusion.

The crusades should be left where they belong, in the past.
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on 18 November 2013
This was the first book I bought when I decided to get into reading history books. Coming into the crusades knowing only a little knowledge, I wanted a book that would take me step by step on how the crusades unfolded, the people involved, the battles, and generally getting a good overview of the crusades. Even little details about certain situations have been fun to read. From the prologue throughout, I have learnt so much and all the material was easy to read. Dates, people, descriptions all laid out in a systematic way which is very engaging and laid out in a simple way for a beginner to understand. I throughly enjoyed this book and the information written has been invaluable and have enjoyed great discussion over the topic. Great book to read and this book has inspired me to read more and brought about a new passion for reading!
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on 6 March 2011
Thomas Asbridge is one of those rare people: an academic - an especially a historian - who can write well - and very well indeed. This is a narrative history of the crusades which can be read at several levels: as an exciting, if brutal story, as a study of mankind and as a study of religion and politics. You meet some fascinating characters here: Pope Urban II preaching the First Crusade, Peter the Herman travelling on his donkey, the several leaders of the First Crusade who against all odds founded the Crusader States, Eleanor of Aquitaine, her son Richard the Lionheat who failed to win back Jerusalem, the German Emperor Fredrick II who, by diplomacy, did, the brave Leper King Baldwin IV, Saladin, King Louis IX, the crusader who was made a saint, the brutal sultan Baybars, Prester John who never appeared... There's bravery, treachery, stupidity, brutality, piety, nobility in this story.
Dr Asbridge begins with a backgound of Europe and the East at the beginning of the crusades and a helpful discription of the founding of Islam, explaining the early split between its two main branches. He reminds us that the Holy Land was once part of the Roman Empire but had been lost to Islam centuries earlier and that the Eastern Empire still existed. He then begins his narrative. The part that should be compulsary reading especially for politicians is the conclusion where Dr Asbridge knocks on the head all the nonsense that has been written and said about the crusades in recent times: '... the crusades left no permanent marks upon western Chridtian or Muslim society. In truth the war for the Holy Land had all but been forgotten by the end of the Middle Ages and was only resurrected centuries later...the crusades must also be placed where they belong: in the past'
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on 20 October 2013
This is a wonderfully presented book clearly written by a man who knows his stuff. Colour plates and a large collection of sources (so you can sieve through and look up further reading), lots of notes etc. It is in depth and an absolute bargain for the Amazon price!
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on 25 April 2012
Bought this as a present for my friend who loves anything to do with this period in history. She is finding it fascinating and well researched. I understand it is also a TV series so for anyone who enjoys the series, this would be a good keepsake.
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on 2 August 2012
Excellent read whether for the beginner/student into Crusading History or for the seasoned historian. Would definitely recommend it. Gave a good general insight into this period
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on 16 March 2012
Thomas Asbridge has produced an incredible book which I have no doubt I will reference and re-read again and again. I read a lot of history books and this one is, in my opinion, the template for any work that seeks to appeal to both the serious academic and the lay reader. Too often, history books appeal to one and not the other and this needn't be the case. Here, each event and character is afforded a detailed and illuminating context, and not once throughout the nearly 700 pages did i feel that there was any repetition or over-analysis.

If you are hovering over the "Add to Basket" button, just hit the thing. You will not regret it.
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on 7 July 2010
Having massively enjoyed the author's original work on the First Crusade, I must admit that I ordered this book well in advance. I was not disappointed. It was well worth the wait and the positive reviews recorded here do Asbridge great justice.

The book frequently left me caught up in a compelling narrative, that was enriched by various and fabulously depicted legends. Don't read this book on the Underground, you will miss your stop.

Fabulous book - Asbridge - whats next?
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