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The Crusades: The War For The Holy Land

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  999 ratings  ·  115 reviews
A one-volume history of the Crusades to the Holy Land - telling this fascinating and bloody story from both Christian and Muslim perspectives for the first time.
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published January 7th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This is a fantastic narrative history of the Crusades from the First Crusade at the end of the 11th Century right up till the end of Christian Outremer in the 1290s when Islam regained control of the Levant after nearly 200 years of 'occupation' by the Latin Christians. A really gripping, page-turning read, as Tom Asbridge writes fluidly with a really straightforward prose that is just packed full of interesting facts, analyses and hypothesis. This book, for 680 pages, covers all the main histor ...more
A fine and concise overview of a complex, two centuries long cycle of conquest - first Western, then Muslim. I say concise because even at nearly 700 pages of text, it's obvious that any given chapter of this book could itself be expanded into a more detailed volume.

I'm casually familiar with medieval history and the crusades, but as it turns out, I didn't really know what a crusade was, how one was orchestrated, what the participants believed they were participating in, how crusades changed ove
Authoritative - adj. "having or showing impressive knowledge about a subject"

Asbridge's 'authoritative history' of the Crusades certainly does this. It is a very extensive look at the period in a single volume. There are problems; I think there is still not enough examination of what was going on in the Muslim world around the Crusader States, and the role of Byzantium in the area is barely touched on most of the time. But, neither are these absent.

In fact, the role of Byzantine cooperation with
I am fairly certain that I have read more history books than is typical for a 24-year-old girl, perhaps more than is typical for a 50-year-old man. So, I have been around the history book block a time or two. I have slowly been starting to get more and more interested in the earlier decades of the creation of nations or empires in Europe. The Crusades have always been a fairly basic given to me, Christians went to war to promote Christianity and take back Jerusalem. Cool? Reading this book, I re ...more
Jeff Gassler
Asbridge's account of the Holy Wars from 1095-1291 is a well written and engaging work. Asbridge has done what Rodney Stark, author of God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades has done; he has written a history that reads more like a story. The highlights of this work are The First Crusade, especially Baldwin I of Jerusalem's conquests after 1099 and Saladin's history prior to The Battle of Hattin. The Second Crusade is passed over quickly (something common with most historians of this moveme ...more
John Nellis
Very good narrative of the Crusades. It was a nice read , I learned a lot of things I hadn't known about the Crusades. It read like a good novel and wasn't slowed by an overload of information . This would be a good starting point for someone wanting to learn about the Crusades. I especially enjoyed learning about the Mongol invasion of the middle east. An event I knew very little about. Mr. Asbridge does spend time discussing the currant conflict in the Middle east a the end of the book,and how ...more
D.J. Weaver
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a great introduction to the subject, and it was a great choice to include both the Christian and Muslim points of view. The discussion on the historical parallellism between past and present among the people and groups that today try to use the crusades for their ideological purposes is among the highlights of the book. It's fascinating that the crusades have become 'proof' today that there has been an unbroken line of strife and hatred between Christianity and Islam ever since the mamlu ...more
Jane Feehan
Though well-written and researched, Thomas Asbridge's tome about the Crusades may leave one with a sense of having read a history about the rise of Islam in the Near East. Yes, the account begins with the call by Pope Urban II for Christians to retake Jerusalem and there is narrative about key European participants but Asbridge weaves this into a history of Muslim nation building and militarism almost as if it were a backdrop. Most of this book of nearly 700 pages focuses on the battles of the f ...more
Mike Kershaw
I picked this book up at the National Cathedral in Washington DC on a Church Youth Group trip after hearing Chaplain Dave Curlin speak on "The Dangers of a Monolithic interpretation of Islam" and re-reading Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" on a trip to Afghanistan. The Crusades are a central reference point between Christianity and the Western World and Islam for good reason. Asbridge's book was an engaging read. He discusses the period between 1097 and 1291 and Five Crusades (depending on ...more
Helen Callaghan
Signed with the Cross - "The Crusades" by Thomas Asbridge
location: London
mood: impressed
music: Toxic Valentine - All Time Low
I've frequently whinged about the rather dispiriting lack of anything resembling a proper popular cultural history of the Middle Ages. There's loads of great Tudor era material, but not much from earlier. I have my much-loved copy of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer, which is an utter life-saver, but unfortunately it concentrates on the Fourte
Elliott Bignell
By far the best-balanced treatment of the Crusades I have yet to encounter, this monumental work had me rivetted. Impaled, even. I have rarely eaten up so hefty a work in so short a time. Gripping, clearly written and unbiased, this has to be the best of its class.

The book takes an interesting approach of alternating between Muslim and Christian points of view in successive sections, consciously striving for balance. It neither takes a hatchet to reputations on either side nor degenerates into a
Michael Dendis
Aug 08, 2014 Michael Dendis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes European history, war history, action-adventure stories
I've always been interested in the Crusades and found this book years ago in the bookstore but didn't buy it then. I found it online and finally bought it . It was as great as I expected it to be. I thought I knew quite a bit about the Crusades but I was amazed how much new information I learned and how wrong I was about how the Crusades came about.

The writer does a fantastic job describing the reasons why the Crusades started and the problems faced by both the Christians and the Muslims throug
Shashwat Singh
I've always enjoyed Medieval history, probably because of playing Age of Empires 2 when I was younger.

This book covers the history of the Crusades in the near East.

A very enjoyable read. The author presents an unbiased writing of events in a clear and enjoyable manner.

Additionally the author describes the key figures in detail.. allowing us to delve into their minds. One thing I credit the book for is showing me the complexity involved in the Crusades and how individual actors with differing ag
Helena Schrader
While well researched and written in a readable style, for it's length it skipped over far to many important aspects of crusader history. I actually gave up reading it less than half-way through because I was not getting the information I needed for serious research. I turned Malcolm Barber'sThe Crusader States instead and found it much more useful.
James Bunyan
Thought this wouldn't be that good, as it's more of a popular history. But I was wrong! As a narrative, it's engaging and informative, colourful without being patronising, gripping, eloquent and, above al clear. The chronological sequence left me feeling like I'd learnt so much more about each event and it's location in the flow of the 200 year period of history. Certain major characters are dealt with well, like Louis IX, Saladin, Baldwin I, Baybars etc and the battles are explained well, helpi ...more
John Powell
This 767 page tome is another great gift to the lay reader from the world of academe. In the presence of such a major work of scholarship a reviewer can only stand in awe. Few, if any, outside of a university department of medieval history, could be qualified to check and evaluate this book which builds upon so much learning from past as well as specialist modern historians from both the Western/Christian tradition and important Moslem sources. The author does not claim to tell the full story, p ...more
Harry Allagree
Despite having to graduate from college with a minor in History, it's amazing to me how much of history buff I've become! I really enjoyed reading Thomas Asbridge's book on The Crusades, all 784 pages of it! Six years in the making, the book is billed as "The" Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land. I raised a skeptical eye at that when I first picked up the book. If it isn't "the" authoritive history, I'm guessing it might be pretty close. It's extremely well-researched & well-d ...more
Jagati Bagchi
The book took me in that age . . . . enjoyed the journey and unveiling of the questions I had so long in my mind. The politics of crusade always fascinated me. knowing the details i find more drawn to that age . . . .
Mar 21, 2010 Natalia marked it as hibernating  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
So far, a very smooth read, packed with a lot of stuff I didn't know about the Crusades. It's a really interesting time in history, for sure.
While reading this I had a profound sense that for Asbridge the crusades are so familiar he writes as he listens to the roar of war; he seems to stand as an intermediary between the reader and the crusading events themselves. I have little comparative Crusade history besides Madden, which I really enjoyed for the sense of action and the skill in which he could write troop movement and battle engagement. However, Asbridge supplied so much cultural and material context the crusaders themselves spr ...more
The definitive account

As the subtitle says, this is the authoritative history of the crusades. Asbridge's research is evident on every page and in every debunking of myths and widely-accepted theories. He writes in an informative yet approachable style that conveys detail without ever delaying the reader. Legendary figures are brought vividly to life, and the attention paid to the Muslim forces creates a rounded and balanced story that shows the reasoning and strategy of both sides.

Highly recomm
David H. Millar
The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land by Author Thomas Asbridge is a highly recommended history of the Crusades. It also a surprisingly readable book. Asbridge's book is well researched and strikes a balance by presenting the perspective from both sides - Christian and Muslim. When I finished the book I had a much better grasp of crusade history rather than its modern-day revisionist mythology. I also was left with a sense that both sides spent much more time on in ...more
I had this image in my head of a young Thomas Asbridge as a young boy in his 70's wallpapered bedroom lining up all his toys and action figure lined up in medieval battle lines.
'Take that Saladin!'
'No Richard you will never take me'
'Pew Pew Pew Pew.'
Cause you know that boy of a certain generation is going to have an action figure with a lightsaber.

I liked the book. It comes alive with a true passion for the subject, there times he got bogged down in the detail, other times we
This book impressed me from the start. I started reading it because I found myself not being able to answer a simple quiz question: how many crusades were launched by the European West?
If I had wanted a simple numerical answer this would have been the wrong book but luckily I was looking for more!
When I decide to "learn more" about a topic I really want to explore the topic. And this book gave me that: impressive background, careful explanations of military strategy, political and religious rea
Ben Haymond
This was an excellent history of the crusades. There is obviously a lot to cover and Asbridge deftly and descriptively details (like the alliteration?) over 200 years of history.

The sense I get is how almost arbitrary it is to write a history of "the crusades" as if they were isolated events in history. We often assume that the crusades were a monolithic mass movement (I'm on a roll here) and that from start to finish they fit the framework of the first crusade. But in reality the history is no
Shane Kiely
Very interesting overview of the Crusades. There's a particular focus on the rise of Saladin & the Third Crusade (little under half the text is dedicated to this era) though the later crusades are also given a sizeable (if relatively less exhaustive) account. Anyone who's already read Asbridge's previous book The First Crusade, the first 100 or so pages of this book are basically just a less detailed version of that (but it's been a while since I read that so it was nice refresher of that ti ...more
Palindrome Mordnilap
I thought I knew a little about the Crusades. I was under the impression that the Crusader rhetoric employed by both East and West to describe modern events was in some way appropriate. Then I picked up Thomas Asbridge's book and I realised that, like Socrates, I knew nothing.

This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand the chronology, events and historical personalities of the Crusades period. It is a lengthy tome, but Asbridge's elegant prose moves things along at pace whilst e
Timothy Stead
A balanced and engaging introduction to one of the most contentious periods in history.

The events of September 11, 2001 and it's aftermath led to a renewed interest in the often troubled relationship between Christianity and Islam. Unfortunately, any treatment of this relationship must deal with the two centuries in which the Latin Catholic West launched a series of religious wars in the Levant, Syria and Egypt. To get to grips with the legacy of the past and move beyond it, it is more important
Christian Dibblee
Asbridge does a remarkable thing: he covers the Crusades in less than 700 pages. Going in I didn't think it possible, but he is able to do so while giving ample time to both Latin and Muslim motivations, developments, and attitudes. I enjoyed very much his broad point that the Crusades were not some organized papal expedition, but rather represented a polyglot of motivations. Men took up the cross for tons of different reasons, many of which to find booty and loot. He's more than willing to conc ...more
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Thomas Asbridge is an internationally renowned expert on the history of the Middle Ages and author of the critically acclaimed books The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land and The First Crusade: A New History. His latest publication is The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones.

Thomas studied for a BA in Ancient and Medieval History at Cardi
More about Thomas Asbridge...
The First Crusade: A New History The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones The Creation of the Principality of Antioch, 1098-1130 Walter The Chancellors & The Antiochene Wars (Crusade Texts In Translation)

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“Concepts such as love, charity, obligation and tradition all helped to shape medieval attitudes to devotion, but perhaps the most powerful conditioning influence was fear;” 0 likes
“when Latin crusading armies arrived in the Near East to wage what essentially were frontier wars, they were not actually invading the heartlands of Islam. Instead, they were fighting for control of a land that, in some respects, was also a Muslim frontier,” 0 likes
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