Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades: Memoirs of Usamah Ibn-Munqidh” as Want to Read:
An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades: Memoirs of Usamah Ibn-Munqidh
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades: Memoirs of Usamah Ibn-Munqidh

by
3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  166 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
The life of Us?mah ibn-Munqidh epitomized the height of Arab civilization as it flourished in the period of the early Crusades. His memoirs present an uncommon non-European perspective and understanding of the military and cultural contact between East and West, Muslim and Christian. His writing is remarkable for its narrative clarity, its humanity, and its wealth of perce ...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published June 22nd 2000 by Columbia University Press (first published 1180)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 553)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
William1
Feb 14, 2012 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is marketed as a Muslim perspective on the Frankish invasions of the 12 century (i.e. the Crusades). There is certainly much in it about specific battles against the Christian invaders, but it's very much an "on the ground" perspective. It's no survey text. If you've read Steven Runciman (or Christopher Tyerman) you can distinguish the various battles and periods of advance and retreat, and the writer's engagement with the major players of that time. But the book is much more than just ...more
Toonvanelst
Jul 10, 2009 Toonvanelst rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-history
If you want to know how a muslim viewed the Crusaders (which he would only recognise as the broader term of Franks - the cross is almost never referred to), read this Usama's version of history, and forget about the current Osama and his war monging. This is the real thing.

Usama ibn Munqidh writes about his extraordinary and long lasting life as a courtier who mingled with the great men of his time, as a battle seasoned warrior, a prodigious hunter and a religious muslim. He tells short tales fr
...more
Bryn Hammond
Mar 12, 2015 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-islam
Usama is a great teller of anecdotes. Let me stress the fun side of this book. I notice Penguin have dropped the first title on my copy, A Book of Contemplation. He may have jotted down these anecdotes in an arrangement that can be pretended to exhibit the 'inscrutability of fate' in human life -- but that just means he collects eye-witness, as often as not his own, on incidents bizarre, unusual or otherwise worthy of remark.

If you like fighting tales -- and I know a few of you do -- he gives,
...more
Richard White
Apr 02, 2013 Richard White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usama ibn Munqidh was a Muslim faris or cavalier from Northern Syria who experienced and wrote a great deal during the Crusades. His most famous work, The Book of Contemplation, survives as a rare look into the Holy Land during the Crusades from a Muslim perspective. Ibn Munqidh was born on 4 July 1095 at his family’s castle at Shayzar. His family, the Banu Munqidh, were an established aristocratic Arab clan who had the means to bring ibn Mundiqh up with an education typical of the warrior elite ...more
Lara
Man, this was cool! Since it was written in the late 1100s, I was expecting it to be pretty difficult, but it think it helps that this is a modern translation, and also that, other than one section that is a eulogy, it was apparently written in a fairly casual style. I found it really interesting. A lot of it is details of battles with the Franks, or battles with lions or other wild animals, and sometimes that got a little old, although at times it was pretty entertaining. There is also a sectio ...more
Einar Eide
Since one of the subtitles of this book was Islam and the Crusades I thought the book would be about thst theme. It was not, for that one would have to consult the literature on this subject, while this Usama is one of the sources for works on the Crusades from the muslim persoective. The Crusades are not actually of great concern to Usama interestingly.

Although the book was not quite what I expected, it gives fascinating insights into a warrior-poet-writer of the medieval Middle East. There ar
...more
Daniel
Jul 26, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book! You need to read it in large chunks to get the right feel since the anecdotes are all related by themes. Reading them one at a time or even three or four at a time will not do.

The Book of Contemplation is, by the way, not really about the crusades; it's about Fate. The crusades are just a backdrop for the stories illustrating Fate's sovereignty.

That having been said, this book has been well translated to bring out Usama's incessant humour. Read this:

""A Reminiscence about that Aged
...more
Kaushik Iyer
Jan 02, 2016 Kaushik Iyer rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Primarily rated for the clarity of translation and of presentation.

This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in Arab history. Usamah Ibn-Munqidh's Kitab al-I'tibar shows us a little about courtier life in the 12th century. There are sections that are gripping, parts that ramble, and others that are markedly ordinary, but it feels of its time in a way that's compelling.
Margaret Sankey
Oct 26, 2014 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written as chatty anecdotes for his patron, Saladin, this is a noble Muslim warrior's account of encounters with Franks, other Muslim soldiers and leaders, family members, hunting parties, religious experiences and jokes, giving personal insight into the mindset of an elite person in the 11th century middle east.
Molly
Jan 04, 2016 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provides an excellent view into the life of the Arab aristocracy during the period of the crusades (or Frankish invasions, as referred to by Munqidh). The timeline is choppy and largely unemotional, however the cultural picture presented is valuable in understanding the time period.
Adam Zabell
May 01, 2015 Adam Zabell rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Very cool history, about Europe from an antagonist to European influence. And yet, much as he hates the Franks and loves the Moslems, when waging war he might be fighting either, and at times of peace might be trading with either. Life is never simple, and hasn't much changed in the last millennium.

Being a translation about 100 years old, you get to see a kind of secondary history attached to the footnotes, a more subtle but equally fascinating bit of reading.

It's a dense book that doesn't foll
...more
Mark Blackham
Feb 24, 2012 Mark Blackham rated it it was ok
I give this a lower rating only because it is a turgid read. Apart from that, the book is an invaluable resource for those wishing to get a first-hand view into the medieval Arab perspective, not just about war but also social life, religion, hunting, poetry and more. This book was written after the Second Crusade (circa 1160) by Usamah Ibn-Munqidh who came from the stronghold of Shayzar in Syria. He was a warrior, traveler, a bit of an anthropologist - and a gentleman as he likes to say. The bo ...more
Travis Hull
A memoir written by someone on the other side of the Crusades. These memoirs of a Syrian royal provide an interesting picture of life between the first and second Crusade and how the Arab kingdoms in the area lived. It is one of the best sources for how the Arabs regarded the invaders, both in peace and in war. Not only of interest to historians, this book can be read and appreciated by anyone wanting to know more about the Crusades.
Rachel Cogswell
Nov 23, 2013 Rachel Cogswell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great primary source written by Usamah who worked under Nur al-din and then later Saladin. He writes of a world where the first generation of crusaders have gotten used to living in the Near East. There are new crusaders arriving and are horrified by what they see. The book is about events that happen in Usamah's life and to those living around him.
Shawn
Dec 28, 2011 Shawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing was fine and the translation was good. But I just didn't care for the format. It didn't read like an auto-biography. It was written more in diary or journal from. A random collection of stories from the man's life.
Ryan
May 19, 2012 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I can appreciate the views from 'the other side' it was required reading and I couldn't stand the constant may he be blessed, rest in peace, curse them, curse this.
Paul
Not all that helpful. Some interesting sections but essentially a series of war stories by a warrior.
Muhannad
Oct 01, 2013 Muhannad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
قرأته بالعربي
Mary Rose
Mary Rose marked it as to-read
Feb 10, 2016
Michael
Michael marked it as to-read
Feb 10, 2016
David Atkinson
David Atkinson is currently reading it
Feb 09, 2016
Sam
Sam marked it as to-read
Feb 08, 2016
Jacques du Plessis
Jacques du Plessis marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2016
Steven
Steven rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2016
Elena
Elena marked it as to-read
Feb 02, 2016
Pfish
Pfish added it
Jan 31, 2016
Anthony Havens
Anthony Havens marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2016
Jillian
Jillian marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2016
Anita
Anita marked it as to-read
Jan 28, 2016
Colin
Colin rated it it was amazing
Jan 31, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 18 19 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives
  • God's War: A New History of the Crusades
  • Chronicles of the Crusades
  • Arab Historians of the Crusades
  • The Cross and the Crescent: Christianity and Islam from Muhammad to the Reformation
  • The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam
  • The New Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues in World and International History)
  • Saladin
  • The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century
  • Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations
  • Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World
  • Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination
  • رحلة ابن فضلان إلى بلاد الترك والروس والصقالبة
  • The Alexiad
  • The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land
  • The Heirs of Muhammad
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades
  • Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus

Share This Book