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

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  670 ratings  ·  94 reviews
From a renowned historian who writes with "maximum vividness" (The New Yorker) comes the most authoritative, readable single-volume history of the brutal struggle for the Holy Land.

Nine hundred years ago, a vast Christian army, summoned to holy war by the Pope, rampaged through the Muslim world of the eastern Mediterranean, seizing possession of Jerusalem, a city revered b...more
ebook, 784 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,367)
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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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
Duncan Cameron
The era of the crusades is roughly 1000 years in the past but still echoes daily
in our lives. Muslim/Christian relations especially after 9/11 are at an all time low.

According to Asbridge however in this superb account, the crusades have nothing to do with modern suppositions of racism, hatred, capitalism, imperialism or any other "ism", that thrive today.
The crusades simply put were a way to avoid hell and purify the soul, by saving
the Holy land from "Infidels" and glorifying Jesus Christ.

Jeff Lanter
I can't say enough good things about this book. It is fascinating to read, comprehensive, and well-written. I had read a fantastic book about the Fourth Crusade, but outside of that, my knowledge of the crusades was definitely limited. If you're interested in the crusades or medieval times as a whole and want a general overview of this conflict, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Asbridge presents both the major players Richard and Saladin, along with many other people that played a role...more
Justin Evans
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...more
Matt Kuhns
This is a big book, unsurprisingly (as it covers more than two centuries). It’s also a bit of a slog. To some extent I think the author is to blame for this; it must be possible to produce a livelier account of the Crusades.

Yet it’s very probably more difficult to do than one might at first imagine, as the Crusades themselves were mostly a long, boring slog. In the First Crusade, Europeans poured into the Levant and carved out a number of tidy little “Crusader Kingdoms.” And that’s pretty much...more
Paulo Migliacci
Concise, fast-paced and fair-minded. Professor Asbridge endeavors successfully to strike balanced judgments about historic figures people think they know but actually don't. (One instance is his characterization of Richard I Lionheart as more of a French than an English monarch, due to the formative years he spent in Aquitaine.) Professor Asbridge both tells the tale and comments on past takes about the Crusades, pointing at misinterpretations, distortions and bias in the works of his predecesso...more
This book, along with Ashbridge's other book, The First Crusade is a fascinating look at the history of the war for the Holy Land. I'm ashamed to say that until now my total knowledge regarding to this particular part of history was that Robin Hood fought in the 3rd crusade along with Richard the Lionheart and was a prisoner for sometime before escaping (Prince of Thieves, 1992).
Fortunately, I stand corrected and I feel an overwhelming urge to go visit places in Turkey, Lebanon and Israel to see...more
Chris Moyer
For a fairly academic feeling book, this was a great read. There was period when I was younger where I love reading historical non-fiction and this book has, at least temporarily, rekindled that flame.

Asbridge does a good job of both covering a 3 century period of time and giving enough time to individual events and players to make parts almost read like a novel. Numerous quotes and citations from contemporary works are provided, giving one the impression that this work is solidly ground in sch...more
Matthew Griffiths
A thoroughly enjoyable account of the history of the crusades ranging from the inception of the movement in the later eleventh century right through to the fall of Acre two centuries later. This book was as enjoyable as it was for me as while obviously the military history was the most important aspect of this book it does not neglect the economical and cultural aspects of the crusades legacy. It was also fairly refreshing to read an account that didn't solely focus on either the 1st or 3rd crus...more
Mar 17, 2010 Jeffrey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: HIstory buffs in particular.
I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

I get nervous whenever someone (or their publicist) claims to create an "Authoritative" anything but, 19 days and 684 uncorrected proof pages later, I have to yield the point to Thomas Asbridge.

This comprehensive, exhaustive, yet not at all exhausting book chronicling the rise of the First Crusade to the fall of the last Christian outpost in the Middle East 200 years later may well do a better job of examining that history of warfare, politics, fa...more
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Dr Tom Asbridge studied for a BA in Ancient and Medieval History at Cardiff University, before undertaking doctoral research on the early history of the 'crusader' principality of Antioch at Royal Holloway, University of London. He then taught at St Andrews and the University of Reading, before joining Queen Mary in 1999.

Dr Asbridge specialises in the history of the crusades and the Latin settlem...more
More about Thomas Asbridge...
The First Crusade - A New History: The Roots of Conflict Between Christianity and Islam The Creation of the Principality of Antioch, 1098-1130 Walter The Chancellors & The Antiochene Wars (Crusade Texts In Translation) A Knight's Tale

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“Islam had, from its earliest days, embraced warfare. Muhammad himself prosecuted a series of military campaigns while subjugating Mecca, and the explosive expansion of the Muslim world during the seventh and eighth centuries was fuelled by an avowed devotional obligation to spread Islamic rule. The union of faith and violence within the Muslim religion, therefore, was more rapid and natural than that which gradually developed in Latin Christianity.” 0 likes
“enemy than to suffer his people to be exposed to rapine,” 0 likes
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