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

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)
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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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Not all that helpful. Some interesting sections but essentially a series of war stories by a warrior.
Oct 01, 2013 Muhannad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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