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God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades
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God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  959 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
The truth about the Christian Crusades and Muslim Jihad.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by HarperOne (first published 2009)
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Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Medievalists/religious history buffs
Recommended to Terence by: Library newsletter
I wonder why Rodney Stark wrote this book. He claims there is a “sinister” (p. 4) trend in Crusader studies that characterizes the Muslim world as the innocent and culturally and morally far superior victim of this first manifestation of European colonialism. That “during the Crusades, an expansionist, imperialistic Christendom brutalized, looted, and colonized a tolerant and peaceful Islam” (p. 8).

Twenty years ago I was entering the world of Medieval Studies as a UCLA grad student. In fact, the
Hunter Baker
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a better title would be something like Don’t Allow the Crusades to be Thoughtlessly Added to a Parade of Christian Horribles without Knowing More about It, but I wanted to get your attention.

Rodney Stark’s God’s Batallions is an outstanding book designed to help the educated reader (not only the academic reader) understand the Crusades. You know the routine. You want to talk about Christianity and the village atheist wonders just how you are getting past the horrors of the Crusades and t
Alex Stroshine
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Rodney Stark’s rollicking and highly accessible account of the Crusades serves as an eye-opener to its readers. In it, Stark clears away many modern misconceptions about the Crusades, such as false claims that the Christian soldiers were savages whereas the Muslims were enlightened and peaceful and that the Crusader forays into the Holy Land were the first attempts of European colonialism. Stark dismisses such allegations as absurd. Indeed, he declares that Muslim bitterness regarding the Crusad ...more
Peter Kazmaier
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Darren
Recommended to Peter by: Stan Shelley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Blair Hodgkinson
I like this book with reservations. On the one hand, it does address the imbalance of anti-crusader sentiment. It doesn't really whitewash or justify the crusades, but it does point to some valid points that help dispel the idea that they were completely unprovoked, a view that has come into vogue over the past century. Stark's agenda is very pro-Christian, or comes across as such, and it feels anti-Muslim, but that doesn't prevent him from making some good points about the correct sequence and ...more
Helena Schrader
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages
Well-Founded Refutation of Popular Misconceptions
God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark

This well-researched book with its profuse bibliography and copious notes is not a history of the crusades. Nor is it, as some reviewers suggest, an apology for the crusades. Rather this is an extended essay which refutes a number of common myths or outdated theories about the crusades and the crusader states. Stark is not a polemicist, but a professor at Baylor University, who has published extensively on religion
Mark Johansen
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book serves two useful purposes:

(1) It is a good short, readable history of the crusades. If you don't know much about the period, it's a good introduction. Stark relates an excellent overview of the history, culture, and military realities of the era. This is pretty straightforward so I'll leave it at that.

(2) The clear goal of this book is to explain the motivations of the crusaders. The "pop culture" understanding of the crusades today is that it was an unprovoked attack on Arabs by Euro
Chris Hall
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's such a joy to find a book that doesn't seek to downplay or denigrate the Christian history of the West and the Middle East. Stark takes us into the reasons of the Crusades by relating the attacks and massacres of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Places. The Crusades and their so-called barbarity are put into the context of the time and the practice of war and diplomacy.

The relationship between the Latin church, the Orthodox church, the Western Kingdoms, the Byzantine empire and the Islamic wo
Gary Foss
Dec 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was crap. This thing is so rife with contradictions, half-truths and fallacies that in all honesty, I can't work up the energy to give it a proper review at this point, the reading of it having exhausted my patience for sorting through half-assed political tripe. Maybe later. Maybe never. At this point, all I'll say is there's no good reason to read this book. Not even as an exercise in propaganda or callow, self-serving bigotry, or to get an idea on what the latest is among the anti- ...more
Rosanne Lortz
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the most interesting things about studying history is learning the popular version of the story, and then learning that things are not so simple as they seem. In God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, author Rodney Stark debunks many of the popular myths surrounding the Crusades and gives a justification for one of the most poorly reputed military actions in history. This book provides a good balance to the typical view of the Crusades--"Bigoted and land-hungry European Christians b ...more
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Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, and began his career as a newspaper reporter. Following a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, he received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He left Berkeley to become Professor of Sociology and of Compa ...more
More about Rodney Stark...
“Many critics of the Crusades would seem to suppose that after the Muslims had overrun a major portion of Christendom, they should have been ignored or forgiven; suggestions have been made about turning the other cheek. This outlook is certainly unrealistic and probably insincere. Not only had the Byzantines lost most of their empire; the enemy was at their gates. And the loss of Spain, Sicily, and southern Italy, as well as a host of Mediterranean islands, was bitterly resented in Europe. Hence, as British historian Derek Lomax (1933-1992) explained, 'The popes, like most Christians, believed war against the Muslims to be justified partly because the latter had usurped by force lands which once belonged to Christians and partly because they abused the Christians over whom they ruled and such Christian lands as they could raid for slaves, plunder and the joys of destruction.' It was time to strike back.” 5 likes
“The Crusades were not unprovoked. They were not the first round of European colonialism. They were not conducted for land, loot, or converts. The crusaders were not barbarians who victimized the cultivated Muslims. They sincerely believed that they served in God's battalions.” 3 likes
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