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Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  268 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
From an internationally renowned expert, here is an accessible and utterly fascinating one-volume history of the Crusades, thrillingly told through the experiences of its many players—knights and sultans, kings and poets, Christians and Muslims. Jonathan Phillips traces the origins, expansion, decline, and conclusion of the Crusades and comments on their contemporary echoe ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Random House (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,035)
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Unlike a lot of academic works this is not dry and tedious for the most part, though sometimes the author does decide to spend many pages giving detailed accounts of sieges.

On the simplest level the book is not just an account of an endless round of battles, it introduces key figures, explores their lives and careers, and examines how and why they contributed to the crusades. Taken as a whole, it is an engaging and readable human narrative of the entire crusading period from the Late Eleventh to
Jan 26, 2013 Maitrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It's a great introduction to the messy history that is the Crusades. Covering the well known events such as those of the First Crusade to a simple biography of Saladin, this book also gives the real reasons behind such tragic events as the Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade and the Children's Crusade (nobody was sold to slavery) to even obscure legends such as the alleged Christian Emperor of the East: Prester John (actually, Chengiz Khan) or how an excommunicated German Emperor wo ...more
Excellent, very readable birds-eye view of the Crusades. Phillips falls down a bit when he tries to pull it all together and talk about the use of the word "crusade" in times since the actual Crusades...he's trying for a kinda lofty conclusion, and he doesn't quite make it. But the main point is to give a general sense of what happened, and there he succeeds admirably.

I'm not trying to become a big expert on the Crusades or anything; I just want the broad strokes. I think of it like this: I'd li
Elia Princess of Starfall
Mar 18, 2016 Elia Princess of Starfall added it
Recommends it for: medieval history fans

The Crusades are legendary; in the their own lifetime and in ours. Who can resist their sheer epic nature, unrivaled brutality and the classic struggle between Islam and Christianity, East and West, that perhaps holds a mirror up to our own modern world. The Crusades may have lasted less than 200 years (1099-1291) but their shadowy legacy lingers on in the world and continues to wield powerful cultural and historical influence over people today. From popular culture's Indiana Jones and the Last
Alberto Bellini
Interessante saggio sulla storia delle crociate, o meglio sulla storia dell'idea di crociata e su molti personaggi storici di spicco di questa storia. L'idea è interessante, ma il saggio resta sempre confuso nello sviluppo. o si fa un testo di storia o di storie, oppure si fa un saggio sul significato della nozione di crociata nella storia, sul suo armamentario di simboli, di idee, di percezioni e preconcetti. cercando di fare ambedue le cose l'autore non riesce in nessuna delle due. come storia ...more
Apr 11, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it
I thought I was going to give this a quick look over, maybe read about Richard and Saladin, check into the Children's Crusade, but I got hooked early in the first chapter. What made this book interesting for me was the author's focus on one or two, or a few characters - be they popes, knights, kings, or emirs - per crusade and unfolding the narrative around their contributions. Of course they were all interesting characters - you don't write books about non-descritps. The history balanced the si ...more
Mar 18, 2010 jordan rated it really liked it
Trying to examine two centuries of war, on two continents, and across five theatres in a single volume requires audacity. And Jonathan Phillips’s //Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades// is certainly audacious in its scope, covering not only the several medieval efforts to reclaim and maintain a presence in the Holy Land, but for good measure throwing in the reconquering of Spain, the blood-drenched suppression of the Albigensians in southern France, and the so-called “Northern Crusad ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinating by the history of the Crusades - if only because the reverberations of what happened so many hundreds of years ago is still so terribly relevant to the world today. The impact of the Crusades on the East/West, Muslim/Christian divide is impossible to overstate: the metaphor of a 'crusade' is used today in everything from politics to entertainment; the Muslim concept of 'holy war', jihad is enshrined in the very core of the religion, and the arguments and political an ...more
Chris S
Interesting, gave a good overview of the crusades, and had an interesting section concerning the West's view of the Crusades, our use of the word and the impact that still resinates with Islamic nations.
Jul 12, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing
This was a really well balanced book. I wanted to learn more about the history of the clash between Christianity and Islam but most authors seem very one sided. This author cited both Muslim and Christian sources and focused on the good and bad intrinsic in each side of the Crusades.
Apr 19, 2016 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An accessible, readable one-volume history of the Crusades. But it still doesn't really help with the terrible questions raised by inter-religious war.
May 02, 2016 Suzan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Een interessant boek over de geschiedenis van kruistochten en wat de culturele, politieke en religieuze betekenis was van deze kruistochten.
Jim Talbott
Jul 29, 2011 Jim Talbott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent short history of the Crusades. I skimmed the last few sections on modern implications, but how can you not love a book with passages like this about King Amalric of Jerusalem, "William described him as quite tall and good-looking with receding blond hair and a full beard, although he noted that the king was troubled by his weight and had breast 'like those of a woman hanging down to his waist.'" In addition to a highly digestible overview, I found the book's attention to political a ...more
Haythem Bastawy
Mar 18, 2016 Haythem Bastawy rated it it was amazing
Although Holy Warriors is 'aimed squarely' at the non-academic public, it is well-researched and sufficiently-detailed as a general history of the crusades could be. Jonathan Phillips' superb story-telling skills add further thrill to a topic, that can be quite complicated.

One of the things that impressed me the most about the choice of references in the book, is that Phillips was highly selective of the translations he used, or at least of the ones I understood the titles of their originals.

Jun 23, 2011 Glenn rated it really liked it
I'm rounding up from 3 1/2 stars. I found the first 3/4 of the book fascinating. A great combination of events and stories kept me interested. He does a good job of explaining the significance of the crusades and their context of what was going on in Europe and elsewhere in Asia. I would probably have given in a solid 4 stars, but I thought the last two chapters were for the most part dribble. More than anything this made me want to go to London and take one of his courses on The Crusades.
Gayla Bassham
Jul 23, 2011 Gayla Bassham rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
Pretty fascinating account of the Crusades. I hadn't read anything about the Crusades since I took Western Civ in high school, so this was mostly fresh information for me and I found it very interesting. The final chapter is eminently skippable, however--Phillips tries to tie contemporary figures such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden to the medieval Crusades, and it doesn't really work. (And the chapter also just feels like it is from an entirely different book.) Still well worth reading.
Simon Van Rensler
Oct 19, 2014 Simon Van Rensler rated it liked it
Some editing errors. The parts about George Bush feel dated.
Jun 29, 2010 Kathy rated it liked it
This was bruited as an intimate version of the crusades with more focus on the individuals involved, but to me it still read like a light history. Maybe it isn't possible to individualize iconic figures like Richard the Lionheart or Saladin, or perhaps there is too much distance. I didn't feel like this delivered and was really bored by the last chapter, which I felt was unnecessary.
Oct 02, 2010 David rated it liked it
Great overview of the crusades with lots of primary source quotes both Christian and Muslim. The writing was at times quite dry and I think Mr. Phillips could have done a better job giving some extra descriptors to some of the words he commonly uses that are uncommon for someone who is rather ignorant of crusading history. Looking forward to Rodney Stark's take on the crusades.
Lauren Albert
A good basic overview of the crusades. I liked his focus on individual personalities since it can be more engaging than the necessary abstractions over religion and territory. I happened to like his closing discussion of uses made of the term "crusades" and the idea of a crusade--most notably in Bush's appalling use of the word in his post 9/11 speech about terrorism.
Corey Stubblefield
Mar 03, 2013 Corey Stubblefield rated it really liked it
An interesting book that helped to fill in a gap in my knowledge during a particular time period. The book gave a short account of roughly a hundred years in a narrative format that turned out to be very engaging. I also found that I liked how he took the history of the Crusades and tied them into the larger picture regarding our current interaction with Islamic countries.
Yousef Shaaban
Aug 14, 2013 Yousef Shaaban rated it really liked it
simple reading through that simple age of fanaticism.
His theme of highlighting some notable characters is very successful in giving a pure example's of humanity's peace,war,nobility, greed and faith in that age of simplicity away from today's complicated hypocrisy.
Fredrick II "wonder of the world" impressed me with his secular,tolerant,faithful attitude.
Mar 22, 2011 Katherine rated it it was ok
Honestly, I gave up. This is interesting, but not an easy read. You can't read it while working out on a stationary bike (or I couldn't) because it takes too much concentration. The maps are nearly useless, surprisingly so. His style is more popular than academic, and the source material he uses is clearly extensive, but it was just hard to read.
Edward Moore
Mar 30, 2013 Edward Moore rated it it was ok
Kind of dry but I was aware it is an academic tome. Rather dismissive of the role the Crusades played in the persecution and killing of Jews in Europe. The final chapter felt like the author was relieved to be at the end of the project and could not wait to finish. Interesting details for those interested in the Crusades, however.
Daniel Kukwa
May 07, 2013 Daniel Kukwa rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A rather readable look at the history of the Crusades, from the point of view of its chief warlords. That said, the coda about the modern-day legacy of the Crusades seems a bit of a stretch to me, and I would have preferred it ended in conjunction with the end of the medieval world that spawned this series of conflicts.
May 03, 2012 Lorenz rated it it was amazing
This book is well-written and easily understood. I love the primary texts contained in the book as well as smooth story-telling of the history of the crusades. Even if I had read books and watched documentaries about the crusades, I still learned a lot of new things in this book. I definitely recommend this to everyone.
Paul Wells
Jun 28, 2013 Paul Wells rated it liked it
A good, well-written survey of the history of the Crusades, but it took me forever to slog through it. So many names, so many places, such a broad time span.... I, for one, would have appreciated more maps--at least one per chapter--in order to help visualize the events at hand.
Apr 02, 2011 Scottsweep rated it liked it
Overall a decent overview of the crusades, but not as in depth as my other read on the subject - it is a history book, but the last two chapters are more essay-ish and I would consider them throw-aways.
Taylor Kniphfer
Oct 12, 2010 Taylor Kniphfer rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A book highly recommended for the general reader and academic alike. Although Thomas Asbridge's book was better in my opinion, this was still and very informative book, and should be used as a source for all teaching of the Crusades
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Dr. Jonathan Phillips is Professor of Crusading History in the Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. His scholarly contributions to the crusades include the books Defenders of the Holy Land: Relations Between the Latin East and West, 1119-1187, The Crusades, 1095-1197, and most recently, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople. His articles have appeared in a n ...more
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