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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