Just finished this book. You can read my short review below as posted on www.goodreads.com
God's Batallions: A History of the Crusades as the First Western War on Muslim Terror and Aggression by Rodney Stark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 world is wonderfully told. Enough information to enlighten but not too much to create a turgid narrative. The diplomacy, negotiation and intrigue involved in the preparation and continuation of the Crusades is fascinating to read.
The summing up also looks at how the historical accuracy of the Crusading period has been manipulated and used by West and East to fit their own desired version of history.
It's only January but for me this will be the book of the year.
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