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The Crusades by Geoffrey Hindley
ISBN: 1841195979
ISBN13: 978-1841195971
Author: Geoffrey Hindley
Book title: The Crusades
Other Formats: doc lit mbr mobi
Pages: 288 pages
Publisher: Constable & Robinson Ltd; First Edition edition (February 28, 2003)
Language: English
Size PDF version: 1211 kb
Size ePub version: 1228 kb
Size fb2 version: 1141 kb

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The Crusades. A History of Armed Pilgrimage and Holy War:

Books reviews
If one were looking for a one volume treatise on Crusades or crusades, then this would be a good choice.
My copy of this book is titled "The Crusades: A History of Armed Pilgrimage and Holy War." I do not know why Amazon has an alternative title. The author tries to tie in the notion of a crusade from the medieval times through today. The notion of a crusade is still heard today. As the author has stated in the "Chronology of Jihad and Crusade" section of the book, "The campaigns against the heathen peoples of Europe were justified as defensive wars against a potential threat, in the same way as the American and British governments felt justified in advocating war against Iraq in 2002." page xv. What can I say? My ancestors were the "heathen" on the shores of the eastern Baltic Sea, in the 13th Century. The "Chronology" is nice because the reader has an instant listing of "crusades" official and otherwise.
The author reflects the year 2003. He uses the words "ethnic cleansing" "multiculturalism" and "realpolitik." He has a chapter on "women and feudalism." In a discussion of a musical presentation, given in 1377, "The Conquest of Jerusalem" (which depicted the First Crusade), he states, "the elaborate staging would not have disgraced a Cameron Mackintosh/Lloyd Webber musical." page 223. My first thought was who is Cameron Mackintosh? Is a reader of this book in 50 years going to know either of the two gentlemen?
The book is organized thus: Introduction: What's in a Name?; 1 Beginnings 632-1095; 2 The First Crusade 1095-1099; 3 Life and Politics in a Multicultural World; 4 The Second Crusade: Disaster on the Road to Damascus; 5 Turk and Kurd; Heroes of Islam; 6 Women and an Alternative Feudalism; 7 Loss of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade 1187-1192; 8 The Fourth Crusade: The Latin Conquest of Constatinople and the Scandal of Christendom; 9 Heathen, Heretics and Children; 10 Triumphs of an Excommunicated Emperor; 11 The Failures of a Saint; 12 Acre and After; 13 Chivalry in Action and Nicopolis "The Last Crusade"; 14 The Lingering Decline of a Flawed Ideal; Epilogue: The Aftermath; Appendix I: The Popes, from Gregory VII to Sixtus V; Appendix II: Rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem; Appendix III: Ayyubid Dynasty -- Rulers of Egypt; Appendix IV: Byzantine Emperors at the Time of the First Crusades; Appendix V: Ottoman Princes and Sultans 1300-1566; Appendix VI: Western Emperors 1056-1555.
The book has some maps, photographs, notes and bibliography. Time will tell how this book will hold up.
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The Crusades: A History of Armed Pilgrimage and Holy War, by Geoffrey Hindley, is a short (260-page) survey of the Crusades. The book contains so many names and dates that I often had the impression that when reading one sentence I was immediately forgetting the sentence that had preceded. The names of the various emperors, kings, dukes, counts, and popes often meant little, if anything, to me, except to the extent that I was already familiar with them from other sources. Ultimately what I have read is all pretty much a jumble in my mind. The book might have been better if it had been four times longer or four times shorter. Having read the book, I still have no idea what sort of government existed in the Moslem countries in the relevant centuries, nor do I have any idea what the difference is between Sunni and Shiite. But if I remembered, I'd know who led the forces into battle at such and such a place on such and such a date.
There is some well written and compelling material here but much of the book is a plodding series of names and dates. He goes into quite a bit of detail about European nobility's lineage and relationships to each other. He also details the key players' diplomatic relations, most of this is very hard to follow. If he spent more time talking about events on the ground as opposed to who was married to whom and what countless noblemen and women were thinking about each other this would have been a better book.

From a military history perspective this isn't a very good book, the descriptions of the individual campaigns are few and far between. Some subjects are barely mentioned, the children's crusade got 2 paragraphs.

He only looks into the Muslim perspective when it involved Saladin and to a lesser extent Nur ad-Din. Most of the time events on the Muslim side are either not mentioned at all or mentioned through the eyes of European nobility.

If you are looking for an overview of the crusades, look elsewhere.
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