The World of the Crusades

Greenwood. (Daily Life). 2 vols. Jun. 2019. 827p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781440854613. $198; ebk. ISBN 9781440854620. HIST
Perennially exploited for various agendas, the Crusades deserve the expert, politically neutral, scholarly attention offered here. Following the series’s format, Holt (history, Florida State Coll. at Jacksonville) groups entries under topical headings, with brief introductions. Resources include a chronology (33–1529 CE); an extensive, up-to-date bibliography; 38 primary documents with brief contexts; black-and-white images; and excellent further reading and see-also suggestions. Informative text boxes are cited in the reliable index. Holt’s superb introduction provides a nuanced overview, establishes his wide-ranging expertise, and confirms his clear, jargon-free style. He explains historiographic controversies and complexities, debunks long-running myths, and supplies choice details. Did you know that more medieval cookbooks survive in Arabic than in the rest of the world’s languages combined? That “Gregorian” chant was developed 200 years after Pope Gregory I? A useful complement is Christopher Tyerman’s identically titled volume, which focuses on material remains and includes many attractive images and short essays, making an enticing introduction to the era, while Holt delivers depth.
VERDICT High school students, undergraduates, and general readers will find this an invaluable and accessible synthesis of traditional sources and current scholarship.
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