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The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,510 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
The Crusades is an authoritative, accessible single-volume history of the brutal struggle for the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. Thomas Asbridge—a renowned historian who writes with “maximum vividness” (Joan Acocella, The New Yorker)—covers the years 1095 to 1291 in this big, ambitious, readable account of one of the most fascinating periods in history. From Richard the Lio ...more
ebook, 784 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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Jun 18, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2015 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeff Gassler
Jan 30, 2014 Jeff Gassler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Justin Evans
Apr 07, 2011 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
I was surprised at this one. Asbridge writes perfectly clear sentences, the kind of thing I would read in a student's paper and give bonus marks for, while also cautioning them that some thoughts do require something beyond this kind of prose. The good news is that this makes the book perfectly readable; the bad news is that, well, it isn't Gibbon or even D. MacCulloch level prose. But it gets maximum marks for user-friendliness.
Cons: since there's no variation in prose style, the battle narrat
Elliott Bignell
Apr 12, 2015 Elliott Bignell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
John Nellis
Feb 21, 2015 John Nellis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2009 D.J. Weaver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 20, 2013 Lehiff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Nov 29, 2012 Mike Kershaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2009 Helen Callaghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Nov 11, 2015 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, relatively fast-paced and fact filled account of the Crusades, beginning prior to the 1st Crusade, which launched in 1095, and ending about 200 years later. Provides a good overview of the motivations (and motivators) for the Crusades, key battles, political and military figures, etc.



Description: Dr Thomas Asbridge presents a revelatory account of the Crusades, the 200-year war between Christians and Muslims for control of the Holy Land.

The story of the Crusades is remembered as a tale of religious fanaticism and unspeakable violence, but now fresh research, eyewitness testimony and contemporary evidence from both the Christian and Islamic worlds shed new light on how these two great religions waged war in the name of God.

Apr 16, 2016 Sheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I attended a Catholic school from K-8. We were taught that between about 500 AD and the Renaissance, nothing much happened, hence the name "The Dark Ages." So far as we knew, monks & nuns hung out in abbeys & convents; peasants labored for the nobility; the plagues killed thousands; and, oh yeah, there were Crusades, Robin Hood and King Richard the Lion-Hearted.

In the past couple years, I've been reading some histories of Christianity, the Papacy, and Islam, and am coming to the conclus
Elia Princess of Starfall
Mar 08, 2016 Elia Princess of Starfall added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of medieval history
Recommended to Elia Princess of Starfall by: Chapters
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic and comprehensive read about the Crusades from the first Crusade to the last. It incorporates perspectives from both the Christian and Muslim sides and talks about the affects of the Crusades on today's geopolitical problems.

This book also gives us moderns a glimpse into how the Crusaders and Muslims thought about the fight for the holy land.

Anyone who is a history nut should read this book.

One of my favorite parts about reading a history like this is that you will always find cross-o
Oct 06, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and researched history of Crusades

Thomas Asbridge's extensive book of almost 700 pages, is very readable. His approach of the Latin and Islamic combatants gives the reader a needed perspective of the events of the over 200 year period. Presenting both Christian and Islamic history of the battles, social interactions, purposes of the leaders, religious influences etc. gives the reader a broad understanding of events.The book's lengthy conclusion with the Islamic Mamluk's removing mos
Michael Dendis
Aug 08, 2014 Michael Dendis rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 16, 2014 Shashwat Singh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2014 James Bunyan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 20, 2015 John Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Philip Bailey
Jun 07, 2015 Philip Bailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very serious read. An account of the Holy Wars from the late 11th century into the late 13th century. Sanctioned by a succession of Popes and supported mostly by the royalty of the various European countries of the time. Though initially some success allowed a number of “Pilgrims” to settle in the Holy Lands, specifically the areas of and around Jerusalem until the awakening in a religious sense of the native Muslims. Further attempts by the Europeans were failures as invading forces are seldo ...more
Harry Allagree
May 22, 2015 Harry Allagree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jo-anne Atkinson
For over a thousand years inter-religious strife has been focused on the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Jerusalem is a holy place for the three Abrahamic religions and therefore is a jewel fought over. Conquered by Islamic forces in the 7th century, Christian pilgrims were still able to access the holy places but by the 11th century the papacy felt that Jerusalem should be rules by Christians. Thus began two centuries of warfare for possession of the Holy Land involving the elite o ...more
Jagati Bagchi
May 10, 2014 Jagati Bagchi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 19, 2015 Enso rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're only going to read one book on the Crusades, read this book because after its 700+ pages, you'll never want to read another!

This was actually a very good history of the lead up to the First Crusade all the way through the Fifth Crusade. This is over 200 years of history of the "Crusader Kingdoms" of the Levant and surrounding Near East territory. If you hate history that gets into names, dates, and battles, it isn't one for you but I think it hit a good middle ground for the general ed
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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...

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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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