The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land by Thomas Asbridge; published by HarperCollins Publishers copyright © 2010.
In 1095 AD, the high middle ages, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus of Constantinople asked the Latin Pope Urban II for assistance in recovering parts of Asia Minor lost to the Seljuk Turks. The Pope responded, with less than altruistic motives towards his eastern Christian cousins, by embroiling western Europe and the Levant in 200 years of war which eventually became known as the Crusades.
Thomas Asbridge presents a compelling history of Christian struggles to seize control of the holy land from the Muslims, thus reviving the Islamic concept of jihad, while attempting to answer the questions of how these battles of conquest and religion reverberate through western history into our modern times. Interesting enough Asbridge suggests that the crusades “belong in the past” and inferences to todays apparent sequels are “misguided”.
This is a excellent and thoroughly researched march through the 11th and 12th centuries of western Europe and the Levant, bringing alive names of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin and others that Sir Walter Scott so richly romanticized in his historical 19th century novels, Ivanhoe and The Talisman. The Crusades is a fast paced read with sufficient twists and turns in the narrative that you may suspect that this is a movie screenplay rather than a history. This is a great read. Well worth your time.