Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands

Viking. Oct. 2019. 464p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780525428312. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780698186446. HIST
The medieval Crusades have long fascinated readers, and as Jones (Templars) explains, they still have the power to compel action. The author’s choice to make the people doing the action rather than the act as the focus is insightful. For example, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine was probably the most famous woman to go on crusade and there are many accounts of her experience, but the author also cites the actions of ordinary women whose stories have come to be told, such as that of Margaret of Beverley who survived the siege of Jerusalem in 1187 and recounted her experience to her monk brother. Likewise, we learn about not only famous Muslim leaders such as Saladin but also lesser-known sultans, advisers, and military leaders whom the European crusaders fought. Furthermore, the sources include contemporary and retrospective histories. The title also boasts descriptions of the many times crusades were declared against destinations and peoples besides Muslims in the Holy Land, such as pagans in the Baltic, Cathers in France, and even the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.
VERDICT An entertaining and informative look at a potent historical phenomenon whose echoes are still being felt today. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/19.]

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