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The New Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues in World and International History)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  894 ratings  ·  94 reviews
A third edition of this book is now available. How have the crusades contributed to Islamist rage and terrorism today? Were the crusades the Christian equivalent of modern jihad? In this sweeping yet crisp history, Thomas F. Madden offers a brilliant and compelling narrative of the crusades and their contemporary relevance. With a cry of "God wills it!" medieval knights us ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published November 10th 2005 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (first published January 25th 1999)
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Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Story of the Crusades in Historical Perspective

The “Big Bang” theory of the Crusades claims they were the first round of European colonialism and imperialism, ruthlessly attacking the civilized and peaceful Muslim civilizations of the East, causing them irreparable harm and even being the reason they became radicalized.

The crusades need to be examined in their historical context. The Muslims had conquered the heart of Christianity, including Egypt and Syria as well as the Holy Land. Historia
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Normally I wouldn't give a short survey of this sort four stars. It is very well written, though not especially eloquent. It is simply a brief overview of the entire crusading era. Individual crusades and even battles that could use book length treatments are covered in a matter of pages. Nonetheless, the author's intentions: 1) to give the reader a full picture of what took place during the various crusades, and perhaps more importantly, 2) to once and for all demolish long-held fantasies about ...more
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medieval-history
As one who obtained a master degree in medieval history with a thesis on the fifth crusade, I feel it is my duty to recommend this new concise history of the crusade to everybody who wants to learn more on the crusades.

Comments on the shortness or occasional lack of detail of this marvelous account are not to be taken serious. The author clearly defines that he only wants to tell the bare essentials of crusader history. He wants to sketch the big trends and evolutions in the latin East and the
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The books does what it sets out to do -- give a very high level and brief overview of the crusades. It is well written and easy to read. Of course, it has left me interested in learning more, but it was not written to be definitive. I have no background on the crusdaes and the various historical interpretations of them throughout history, but it also seemed relatively unbiased. I'd recommend it. ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in the Crusades and those interested in the impact of historical biases.
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This book was simply amazing! Madden takes you through the almost six centuries of western European history that were influenced by the idea of the Crusades. Furthermore, Madden is able to make the reader appreciate the Crusades through the lenses of the people who lived and were influenced by them.
Throughout the book, Madden is able to show the most vital aspects of the Crusades without being bogged down by the details of every military tactic. Likewise, through the use of excellent maps at eve
This book is exactly what it purports to be. It reduces over 200 years of history into a short readable outline. Most likely there is a full book exploring the content of any given page. It is an achievement of the author to distill this into just over 200 pages.

Most western adults will not know much about this endeavor. They could only guess at the duration, what was accomplished and outside of Richard I, would most likely not be able to name a participant (I tried this, got 100 years, 3 Crusad
Sep 16, 2016 marked it as to-read
According to Madden, who wrote this article in Christianity Today, "[T]he Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands." Related post here. Related video here. ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madden is a known right-wing pundit, so when I started reading this book, I was skeptical that his point of view would dominate. It does, but it's executed so well that it's a easy read, full of great information. Definitely a work of popular history more so than a textbook, but it shouldn't be ignored. ...more
Justin Kessler
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The New Concise History of the Crusades is a short, detailed introduction into one of the most chaotic and controversial eras in human history, known as the crusades.

Weighing in at just a little over 225 pages of text, Thomas Maddens' book is just what it says it is in the title, its concise. Madden covers all of the major events, including the first crusade all the way to the end of the fifth crusade, with separate chapters dedicated to each crusades aftermath. Accompanying the major crusades M
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madden's history of the Crusades was concise, yet provided a bit of a counter-history to the way crusades have often been portrayed in recent Western historical literature. He understands the Crusades, not as early colonialism, but in the context of the time as religious pilgrimages. He does not overly condemn or hold up either Muslims or Byzantines (a la Runciman) as ideals against barbarous Crusaders, noting atrocities and betrayals on all sides (and the overall benefits to Western European d ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My ignorance of this historical period makes me incapable of judging it as a historical document. It was a nice overview of the political and military events. However, in the initial chapter it stated the limits of viewing the crusades as a primarily military engagement. So, I was disappointed not to learn more about the women, elderly, poor who made up the bulk of the pilgrims as claimed when describing the first crusade. The masacres were horrifying, but dismissed in a single sentence. And, wh ...more
Sandy Salzinger
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
OK, this was a slog. I would have had more of a tough time if it was more than 225 pages. Not really the author’s fault- his writing is crisp and to the point. There’s just so much information! It was a good introduction to this period of time. I’ve come to the conclusion that reading about specific events in history is probably preferable to histories of large swaths of time. But in retrospect, I certainly learned a lot that I didn’t know before and it is a good launching off point for further ...more
Gabriel Jones
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I believe this book does an excellent job with examining each of the crusades from a practical perspective of evaluating the purpose of each crusade, whether or not each crusade was justified, and how we should reflect on the crusades from our modern perspective. Some of the historical accounts range from miraculous stories of victory to selfish, wicked acts of depravity. I found the book quite dry and difficult to read after the third crusade, but it still serves as helpful resource for someone ...more
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)(RK)
Only read this book if you're a student and it's assigned reading.

It was okay but as a 'concise' history I must say that too much was cut out. A great many events but little detail. There is an obvious Christian bias here which meant that much of what was left out was that which may not look good for the Catholic Church. It's sort of a bloodless Crusades. And this is a passionless review. You don't have to 'like' it.
Joseph Raborg
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book provides a brief yet detailed history of all the major crusades. More so than anything else I have read, it strives to understand how the Crusaders themselves viewed their struggle to oust Muslim rulers from the Holy Land. The last couple of chapters are incredibly important, since they describe how historians, Westerners, and Muslims viewed the Crusades across the centuries until modern times. A very good book to read.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Though this is an informative and useful work for an introduction to the subject, the author comes very close to editorializing in favor of the Crusaders. Although one could say that choosing a side is inevitable, this is a subject that one should work hard towards having a "Just the facts, ma'am" approach. ...more
Jason Young
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
Thorough, interesting, concise and very well written, just not my favorite subject.
Tim Speer
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written. This book gives a complete and pretty thorough history of the Crusades, presenting it in a manner that is easy to follow.
Pritam Chattopadhyay
“It is easy enough for modern people to dismiss the crusades as morally repugnant or cynically evil. Such judgments, however, tell us more about the observer than the observed. They are based on uniquely modern (and, therefore, Western) values. If, from the safety of our modern world, we are quick to condemn the medieval crusader, we should be mindful that he would be just as quick to condemn us.”

Thomas F. Madden, professor of history and director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studi
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the student of history, this monograph offers an excellent review of the history and motivational factors behind the Crusades, from both the perspectives of Western Europe and the Islamic peoples of the East. Madden makes good critical use of the sources on this topic which have flooded the scholarly world in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His conclusion, only three pages long, is stunningly relevant for world politics. A dense but enjoyable read for the history buff, student, and ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent primer on the crusades — goes into decent detail, but should be seen as a high-level view of the 1045 - 1292 period. Given the emotional views of the crusades (one polarity being veneration of idealistic and courageous heroes, the other being condemnation of the Franks as proto-imperialists), Madden does an excellent job of conceding that both understandings hold water and reveals the good, bad, and ugly of these fascinating wars.

If you have any interest in the crusades and don't know
This is one of the best modern books on the Crusades that you will find. It's rich in information, highly readable, and a great introduction to the topic. It also provides a balanced view of the Crusades, unlike many other recent works which continue the typical anti-Western, anti-Crusader bias that we have come to see from contemporary historians covering the topic. ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just as promised, a concise history of the crusades with some thought on what they stand for in the grand scheme of history, including some thoughts on other famous takes written by historians or in pop culture.
Jeff Roche
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good synopsis of the History of the Crusades.

Amazing summary of the last 2000 years of the Christian world and its interactions with Islamic civilization from the first Jihads in the 7th century that conquered 80 % of the Christian world at the time to the present day.
Robert Rogers
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This history may be "concise" compared to some, yet it thoroughly covers all of the crusades, and also corrects may common misperceptions, by understanding them in the context of the Middle Ages, rather than projecting modern agendas on them. A fascinating and enlightening read! ...more
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent work, covering the major Crusades, their cause and results, including the rise of Islam and the eventual end of the Crusading era. Clear writing and comprehensive coverage of the Crusading period make this volume stand out as one of the best. Highly recommended!
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anyone wanting great knowledge of the Christian account of the crusades should read this book!
Sep 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Potter's School Classical Track Year 3
Ch. 2: Pope Urban II called for the first crusade and they captured Jerusalem.
Ch. 3: Rise of Latin kingdom of Jerusalem and second crusade
Ch. 4: 3rd Crusade and Decline of Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Nur Ed-Din unified the Muslims and preached Jihad against the crusaders while the crusader states crumbled. Nur Ed-Din died, and then Saladin united Egypt and Syria and waged Jihad, aiming to take Jerusalem and all the Holy Land from the crusaders. The crusaders, parched in the hot desert and withou
Rodney Harvill
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
In this book, Professor Madden challenges the popular perception of the Crusades by framing them in their proper medieval context and avoids looking at them through the lense of modern values. Over the course of a few centuries, Islamic armies had overrun Christian lands in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, North Africa, Spain and Anatolia. Of the five patriarchates, three (Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch) were in Muslim hands. Only Rome and Constantinople remained in Christian hands, and Constan ...more
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden This book provides an excellent look at the crusades, putting them in perspective for their time and in relation to current world politics. It is a great overview for the uninitiated and a great review for folks who have studied the crusades.
The book opens by providing a setting just prior to the first crusade, placing us in the mindset of Medieval Europeans. From there, the information is laid out chronologically. The book closes with
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Thomas F. Madden (born 1960) is an American historian, the Chair of the History Department at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, and Director of Saint Louis University's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

He is considered one of the foremost historians of the Crusades in the United States. He has frequently appeared in the media, as a consultant for various programs on the His

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“Much has been written about the character of Louis IX—all of it good. Even his staunchest enemies agreed that Louis was a man of integrity whose moral character was unassailable and whose devotion to justice was legendary. Like all men of his class, Louis was raised in a culture of chivalry that celebrated the crusade as the greatest use of Christian arms. It is no exaggeration to say that the liberation of Jerusalem was the single most cherished goal in his life.” 1 likes
“It is easy enough for modern people to dismiss the crusades as morally repugnant or cynically evil. Such judgments, however, tell us more about the observer than the observed. They are based on uniquely modern (and, therefore, Western) values. If, from the safety of our modern world, we are quick to condemn the medieval crusader, we should be mindful that he would be just as quick to condemn us.” 1 likes
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