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A major new history of the Crusades with an unprecedented wide scope, told in a tableau of portraits of people on all sides of the wars, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Templars. For more than one thousand years, Christians and Muslims lived side by side, sometimes at peace and sometimes at war. When Christian armies seized Jerusalem in 1099, they began th A major new history of the Crusades with an unprecedented wide scope, told in a tableau of portraits of people on all sides of the wars, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Templars. For more than one thousand years, Christians and Muslims lived side by side, sometimes at peace and sometimes at war. When Christian armies seized Jerusalem in 1099, they began the most notorious period of conflict between the two religions. Depending on who you ask, the fall of the holy city was either an inspiring legend or the greatest of horrors. In Crusaders, Dan Jones interrogates the many sides of the larger story, charting a deeply human and avowedly pluralist path through the crusading era. Expanding the usual timeframe, Jones looks to the roots of Christian-Muslim relations in the eighth century and tracks the influence of crusading to present day. He widens the geographical focus to far-flung regions home to so-called enemies of the Church, including Spain, North Africa, southern France, and the Baltic states. By telling intimate stories of individual journeys, Jones illuminates these centuries of war not only from the perspective of popes and kings, but from Arab-Sicilian poets, Byzantine princesses, Sunni scholars, Shi'ite viziers, Mamluk slave soldiers, Mongol chieftains, and barefoot friars. Crusading remains a rallying call to this day, but its role in the popular imagination ignores the cooperation and complicated coexistence that were just as much a feature of the period as warfare. The age-old relationships between faith, conquest, wealth, power, and trade meant that crusading was not only about fighting for the glory of God, but also, among other earthly reasons, about gold. In this richly dramatic narrative that gives voice to sources usually pushed to the margins, Dan Jones has written an authoritative survey of the holy wars with global scope and human focus.


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A major new history of the Crusades with an unprecedented wide scope, told in a tableau of portraits of people on all sides of the wars, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Templars. For more than one thousand years, Christians and Muslims lived side by side, sometimes at peace and sometimes at war. When Christian armies seized Jerusalem in 1099, they began th A major new history of the Crusades with an unprecedented wide scope, told in a tableau of portraits of people on all sides of the wars, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Templars. For more than one thousand years, Christians and Muslims lived side by side, sometimes at peace and sometimes at war. When Christian armies seized Jerusalem in 1099, they began the most notorious period of conflict between the two religions. Depending on who you ask, the fall of the holy city was either an inspiring legend or the greatest of horrors. In Crusaders, Dan Jones interrogates the many sides of the larger story, charting a deeply human and avowedly pluralist path through the crusading era. Expanding the usual timeframe, Jones looks to the roots of Christian-Muslim relations in the eighth century and tracks the influence of crusading to present day. He widens the geographical focus to far-flung regions home to so-called enemies of the Church, including Spain, North Africa, southern France, and the Baltic states. By telling intimate stories of individual journeys, Jones illuminates these centuries of war not only from the perspective of popes and kings, but from Arab-Sicilian poets, Byzantine princesses, Sunni scholars, Shi'ite viziers, Mamluk slave soldiers, Mongol chieftains, and barefoot friars. Crusading remains a rallying call to this day, but its role in the popular imagination ignores the cooperation and complicated coexistence that were just as much a feature of the period as warfare. The age-old relationships between faith, conquest, wealth, power, and trade meant that crusading was not only about fighting for the glory of God, but also, among other earthly reasons, about gold. In this richly dramatic narrative that gives voice to sources usually pushed to the margins, Dan Jones has written an authoritative survey of the holy wars with global scope and human focus.

30 review for Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Christ may have abhorred violence, but warfare, killing, bloodshed and even genocide nevertheless remained familiar parts of Christian exegesis.” In 1095, Pope Urban II received a summons from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, asking for help with removing Muslim Seljuk Turks from his lands. In a speech later that year at the Council of Clermont, he demanded the Christians of the West to wrest the Holy Land from the barbarian Turks. The volunteer response to his request was good, but it sure ”Christ may have abhorred violence, but warfare, killing, bloodshed and even genocide nevertheless remained familiar parts of Christian exegesis.” In 1095, Pope Urban II received a summons from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, asking for help with removing Muslim Seljuk Turks from his lands. In a speech later that year at the Council of Clermont, he demanded the Christians of the West to wrest the Holy Land from the barbarian Turks. The volunteer response to his request was good, but it sure became more fervent when the Pope added further enticement by saying that an oath to take the cross and go to the Holy Land to fight would also include a remission of sins. As it turned out, there were a lot of people in need of sin forgiveness, in fact, too many. People who would not be much use to fight were showing up in droves. Helen of Troy may have had the face that launched a thousand ships, but Pope Urban, not nearly as beautiful, certainly launched a thousand feet. The first crusade was wildly successful, and each crusade that followed, oh yes there were many more, found a much stiffer response to their invasion of the Holy Lands. I do think that the Turks and the Arabs, who stood in the way of the Frankish armies, were progressively better prepared to fight. Eventually, it all came to an end with the fall of Acre in 1291. What Dan Jones will do is take you through the crusades one by one and introduce you to the movers and shakers on both sides of the conflict in each period. You will have moments where you will feel like you are at a cocktail party full of strangers, and someone is taking you around to introduce you in lightning fashion to what feels like hundreds of people. Never fear, unlike the cocktail party, Jones supplies you with crib sheets at the beginning of the book that lists all the characters and a quick synopsis of why they are important. I’ve never been a big fan of the Crusades, though I have, over the years, read quite a bit about them. I think of them as an incredible waste of lives and resources, and the fact that they are spurred by religious zealtry is not a big selling point for me either. The church, as time went on, used the Crusade banner to eliminate problems in the west as well, like the Cathars in France. For those who read Kate Mosse’s book Labyrinth, you already have a working knowledge of the insidious motivations behind that massacre. There were kings and counts who did not want to go to the Holy Land, where it was likely they might die or return terminally ill or, worse, experience an embarrassing defeat, who jumped at the chance to fulfill their duty to the cross somewhere closer to home. Despite my misgivings about the subject matter, this is Dan Jones we are talking about. I’ve enjoyed his other books on the Plantagenets and the Templars. I’ve also relished his TV specials, especially The Secrets of the British Castles which became a Sunday morning event. With Jones at the tiller, I found myself getting caught up in the actions of the Crusaders. There were many moments where his descriptive powers had me enthralled. When the Crusaders tried to invade Egypt, they ran into a Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea type situation. Not the first part where the Jews escaped between the towering walls of water, but the second part where the water descended upon the chasing Egyptian army. The Egyptians might have learned more from the Bible than the Christians. ”On that night, sluice gates, canals and irrigation ditches along the river, designed to regulate the floodwaters, were all thrown open and the land on which the crusader army stood simply disappeared, turned in a matter of hours from rock-hard, sunbaked soil into a deep, sucking, swamp. Those of the rank and file who were drunk or simply asleep drowned in their tents. Panicked pilgrims and infantry who woke and tried to scramble aboard boats overloaded them so they sank. Camels and mules carrying weapons, treasure and food were swept away.” Can you imagine? I would have more sympathy for the Crusaders except they had tried this same thing a few years before with similar results. If you are going to invade Egypt, you need to pick a very, very dry year. There were complete bonehead situations, like the Egyptian campaign, but there were also ingenious moments as well. I particularly enjoyed the story of Sigurd of Norway fighting pirates who have holed up behind piled stone in front of caves. He had his men haul two small boats up the side of the mountain and then lowered them down, full of men, who promptly dispatched the pirates from above. Seriously? Talk about thinking out of the box. What is most impressive is that Sigurd was around 18 when he dreamed up this plan. How about when the Muslim assassin snuck into the tent of the crusader King Edward the First, and Edward not only fought him off but killed him? It reminded me of when Andrew Jackson used a cane to beat a would be assassin to the ground. Edward was, without a doubt, everything someone would want in a king. He was tall, even referred to as Longshanks. He was intelligent. He was ruthless. He was a winner. Jones did not forget about the women. There was Melisende, queen of Jerusalem, who rose to power through opportunity, but also through great ability. There was Eleanor of Aquitaine, who actually went on crusade with her husband Louis VII. It proved to be the end of her marriage. She split the sheets with Louis and promptly hopped into bed with the English king Henry II. If you haven’t read much on Eleanor, you are missing out. She was a remarkable, self-confident woman who soon bedeviled Henry even more than she did Louis. One of my favorites was Anna Komnene, who wrote a book called Alexiad that celebrated the life of her father Alexios, but in the course of telling her father’s story, she also captured many important moments during the crusades. She was, in some cases, an eye witness to these events. In later chapters, the Mongols appeared on the scene in the 1240s. ”Over that time many people had tried to stand in the Mongols’ way, and plenty more had simply held their hands up and surrendered. Anyone foolhardy enough to resist usually ended up like the Christian army that now lay earless on the Silesian soil: defeated, dead and humbled; left to rot as a warning of the consequences of resisting the most fearsome military machine the world had ever known.” This would have been a good time, if you were a western king who was sworn to the cross, to come down with a lung rumbling cough that would delay your travels to the East. 368 pages to cover nearly 200 years of bloody history. Jones has a good eye for what a reader will find most interesting, and he doesn’t overload us with dates and names to the point that we feel we are mired in the flooded plains of Egypt. We see incompetence, bravery, grandstanding, squabbling allies, and the emergence of some very competent leadership on both sides. Chaos creates opportunity for some and complete disaster for others. I think I will always be haunted by the thought of those women and children left on the docks of Acre in 1291 as they watched the last loaded boats depart as the castle burns behind them. I am writing this review on September 11th, and I can’t help but think of a similar disastrous moment as we had to watch people jump from burning buildings in New York because we could do nothing to save them. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    happy

    With Crusaders, Mr. Jones once again proves why he is one of the best people currently writing medieval history for the general market. With this narrative, he gives the reader a good overview of roughly 400 yrs of the crusading movement (1095-1492) with a short postscript of how they are still affecting us today more than 900 yrs after the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenios first asked the Catholic Pope Urban II for help in fending off the encroaching Turks and recovering his territory. Due t With Crusaders, Mr. Jones once again proves why he is one of the best people currently writing medieval history for the general market. With this narrative, he gives the reader a good overview of roughly 400 yrs of the crusading movement (1095-1492) with a short postscript of how they are still affecting us today more than 900 yrs after the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenios first asked the Catholic Pope Urban II for help in fending off the encroaching Turks and recovering his territory. Due to the relatively short length, this is not an in-depth look at those 400 yrs. That said, Mr. Jones does an admirable job of telling the stories of the main characters, Byzantine, Franks (to use the common term for the Crusaders from Western Europe) and last but not least, their Turkish/Islamic foes. Starting with the first Crusade, the author gives the reader a good grasp of the political situation both in the Christian west and the Islamic East. During the previous couple of hundred yrs, the armies of Islam had gradually overran much of what had been Byzantine territory, including the Holy Land and Egypt. When Emperor Alexios asked for Western help, he wanted a few thousand western professional soldiers to help him retake Anatolia. What Urban provided was two different groups intent on reclaiming the Holy Land in general and Jerusalem in particular and not returning them to Byzantine control Some of more tragic tales Mr. Jones relates of the Crusades are not the battles and out-in-out slaughter in what became the States of the Outremer, but just what the religious fervor of the Crusaders did to Jewish populations in the western lands, particularly Germany. In addition to the Crusaders treatment of Jews, the author looks at just what they did to Byzantium culminating with the Crusaders taking Constantinople, deposing the Orthodox Emperor and putting one of their own on the throne, during the Forth Crusade. In telling the stories of the 8 Crusades to the Outremer, the author looks at just what motivated men to travel months to a place that was so different from home. In many cases it took far more than a year for Crusading Armies to reach the Outremer. In an age where religion was paramount, Religion was an obvious driving factor. Many of the most gifted and idolized figures in the Church preached Crusading - including St. Bernard of Clarvoux. Indulgences were also promised. To the hard bitten soldiers and knights, that promise that their sins would be forgiven if they "Took the Cross" cannot be discounted as a motivating factor. Also Crusading provided an outlet for the younger sons of the aristocracy to gain lands and glory. Mr. Jones looks at the divisions in both the Christian states and the Islamic ones during teh 200 yrs of the Outremer. Early in the Crusading era divisions in the Islamic world allowed much Crusader success. However, the infighting between the Frankish Lords gave many opportunities to the Islamic leaders to defeat the Franks and reconquer their lost lands. This culminated at Acre in 1291 when united Islamic forces defeated the Christians and finally drove them from the Outremer In addition to the events in the Holy Land, Mr. Jones looks at how the Crusading movement grew to encompass more than just the Middle East. The author spends some time on the Reconquista of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. This effort was also declared a Crusade and Spanish Christian Knights were urged to stay in Spain and drive the Islamic invaders out rather than travel to the Outremer. This effort was ultimately a success, when the forces of Isabella and Ferdinand finally conquered Cordoba, the last Islamic state on the Iberian Peninsula. Some other Crusades the author covers include to efforts of the Teutonic Knights in what is now Poland and the Baltic States to convert the Pagan inhabitants, either by the sword or the bible - it really didn't matter. The Crusade against the Cather’s in Southern France is also covered. In addition to events, Mr. Jones does a good job of telling the personalities. Included are Richard the Lion Heart, Saladin, Elinore of Aquitaine, various French Kings, Norman usurpers who became major players in the Outremer. The rise of the Warrior Orders, ie the Templars, Hospitallers, the Teutonic Knights as well as several less well known orders in Spain, is also covered. Mr. Jones ends the main narrative with the fall of Cordoba, but in the post script he gives a personal story of just how the Crusades are affecting events even now. (view spoiler)[ In the winter of 2018 as he was finalizing the manuscript for this book, he was on vacation with his family in Sri Lanka. While he was there, Islamic militants attacked several hotels used by Western tourists, calling for the driving out of the crusaders. As it happens, he and his family were supposed to move to one of the attacked hotels the day after the attacks. (hide spoiler)] In a very real since the Crusades did not end in 1492 or 1291, depending on the historian, but are still going on today. This is definite 4+ star read for me and I highly recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Gannon

    This book worked hard for it's five stars, and they were well earned. This is the third book by Dan Jones that I have read and he never fails to impress. He has taken the Crusades, with its long history, tangled politics and sometimes larger than life characters and presented it in a format that is easy to read and easy to understand for the average person. I am not really one for long reviews, so I will leave you with this-- the book is well written, obviously well researched, the presentation i This book worked hard for it's five stars, and they were well earned. This is the third book by Dan Jones that I have read and he never fails to impress. He has taken the Crusades, with its long history, tangled politics and sometimes larger than life characters and presented it in a format that is easy to read and easy to understand for the average person. I am not really one for long reviews, so I will leave you with this-- the book is well written, obviously well researched, the presentation is excellent. It is informative, thought provoking and entertaining. The epilogue is also brilliant- giving context to how the Crusades of 1095 to the mid fifteenth century still effect us today.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    I have read several of Dan Jones' books and liked them all. His area is English history which is a favorite of mine. English history has everything you could ask for from history, action, adventure, intrigue, violence, scandal, betrayal, revenge, ambition, greed, you name it and it's there. Of course in the hands of a dedicated academic with no sensitivity to the tastes of the reading public such a history can be rendered mind numbingly dull. Dan Jones is clearly a dedicated academic but he defi I have read several of Dan Jones' books and liked them all. His area is English history which is a favorite of mine. English history has everything you could ask for from history, action, adventure, intrigue, violence, scandal, betrayal, revenge, ambition, greed, you name it and it's there. Of course in the hands of a dedicated academic with no sensitivity to the tastes of the reading public such a history can be rendered mind numbingly dull. Dan Jones is clearly a dedicated academic but he definitely knows both his history and what will be palatable to the reading public and he delivers. What I enjoy most about this author is his sense of humor. Jones is not above a snide footnote about the gruesome fate of some villainous historical character when appropriate or the comical nature of other events. History can be funny as well as informative if placed in the right hands and Jones has those hands. In this book the Introduction informs the reader of the approach Jones intends to take with this book. In his words Jones states that the history of the Crusades is too expansive to be treated in a conventional manner. The Crusades spans far too much time and geography so he has decided to take a different approach. This book is about the crusaders and not the Crusades or so he says. His approach is to write about the people that experienced the crusades and to write about them in a chronological order. The people he has selected are key figures in the events depicted but also minor persons with no real historic significance other than that they lived through the events. This revelation had me scratching my head. I imagined a history that wasn't about the events but instead talked about the people that lived through them. I imagined a history of WWII written through biographical sketches of the generals that fought this war and some of the soldiers that experienced the hard fighting. I couldn't imagine how such a history could give the reader a true picture of that war and its significance. I had my doubts about how successful Jones' approach would be but I started reading the book. I have read some history of the Crusades or at least the Third Crusade involving England's Richard the Lionheart and the life of Saladin. Beyond that my knowledge is rather limited. After finishing this book I was amazed at the clarity the book gave me to understanding the entire Crusade history. This is a great book to start an exploration of Crusade history. The book through the stories of the various figures of that history gives the reader a good chronological structure of the Crusades. After reading this book further study can be used to flesh out the details of the various crusades, their times, and their locations. I never realized how geographically encompassing the crusade history really is. Besides the Holy Land crusade history includes Spain, Portugal, Northern Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor, and virtually all of Eastern Europe. Depending on what authority you want to rely on the history can span a couple of centuries or go all the way to 1492 and the discovery of the New World and the sudden shift of European interest from East to West. Jones' book is not by any means a definitive history of the Crusades but is more of a guide or an overview of this history and all its facets. When taken in that light it is a very useful work and well worth reading if you have an interest in this particular history and Jones is a very good guide. Enjoy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    What is there new to say about one of the most frequently written about events in human history? To his credit Dan Jones makes no grandiose claims about a fresh interpretation, but instead approaches the story from the standpoint of some of the key individuals involved: men and women who played a role in the various military campaigns and the Christian kingdoms they spawned. An accomplished writer with a gift for identifying the engaging detail, Jones writes about their lives in an entertaining What is there new to say about one of the most frequently written about events in human history? To his credit Dan Jones makes no grandiose claims about a fresh interpretation, but instead approaches the story from the standpoint of some of the key individuals involved: men and women who played a role in the various military campaigns and the Christian kingdoms they spawned. An accomplished writer with a gift for identifying the engaging detail, Jones writes about their lives in an entertaining narrative that makes for a good read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Well researched and very interesting!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Browne

    This is a well researched and well written book. I have read a handful of books on individual crusades but not one on all of them. If you are interested in a good survey on the Crusades, this book would be worth your while.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    Very informative book that deals with the time before and after the crusades, the one thing I liked about this book is that it doesn’t focus in just one crusade (usually the second and the first) but that it covers all the crusading times and the effects all of them had on the land. Last chapters were interesting as they explore the future of The crusader states and the crusading orders.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    My daughter is studying the Crusades so I thought it would be helpful to gen up. I wanted a readable account of this period and I identified Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands. This is the first book I have read by Dan Jones, but not the last. I was ignorant about much of what had taken place during nearly 200 years of very bloody history - and what a fascinating period it is. Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands provides a perfect whistlestop tour and My daughter is studying the Crusades so I thought it would be helpful to gen up. I wanted a readable account of this period and I identified Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands. This is the first book I have read by Dan Jones, but not the last. I was ignorant about much of what had taken place during nearly 200 years of very bloody history - and what a fascinating period it is. Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands provides a perfect whistlestop tour and is also, somewhat suprisingly, quite the page turner. From Pope Urban's initial call to defend Christians in Constantinople, I was amazed to discover how broad the geographical and religious definition became of what constituted a crusade. Anyone could purge their sins by spilling the blood of anyone identified as others, even fellow Christians or those not paying their tithes. Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands is clearly impeccably researched and yet the scholarship does not slow down a thoroughly entertaining account peopled by colourful historical characters of all genders and faiths. 4/5

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A balanced, well-written and nuanced history of the Crusades. Jones does a great job describing the Crusades’ origins and in telling the story from perspectives that many books on the subject overlook. Jones’ work is mostly focused on the people (especially lesser-known ones), although it does do a good job covering the battles. He also covers the other crusades in Spain and the Baltic. The narrative is accessible and Jones’ coverage of the people involved is vivid, although they might be hard to A balanced, well-written and nuanced history of the Crusades. Jones does a great job describing the Crusades’ origins and in telling the story from perspectives that many books on the subject overlook. Jones’ work is mostly focused on the people (especially lesser-known ones), although it does do a good job covering the battles. He also covers the other crusades in Spain and the Baltic. The narrative is accessible and Jones’ coverage of the people involved is vivid, although they might be hard to keep track of at times. Jones doesn’t try to cover every single battle, or the origins and impact of every single Crusade, but the book should be a good introduction. At one point Jones writes of Conrad of Montferrat being present during the Fourth Crusade (he must mean Boniface) A vivid and well-researched work.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    Good enough history. The Crusades have been written to death; the novelty of this work is that it focuses on the personalities involved rather than military or religious history. The book starts out well and is fairly short for such an epic subject. The writing is disappointing, it starts out fairly streamlined and interesting. However, by about halfway through, it becomes over-detailed and becomes a drag. Further, the monk chronicles the author relies on became over-cited in the text- William o Good enough history. The Crusades have been written to death; the novelty of this work is that it focuses on the personalities involved rather than military or religious history. The book starts out well and is fairly short for such an epic subject. The writing is disappointing, it starts out fairly streamlined and interesting. However, by about halfway through, it becomes over-detailed and becomes a drag. Further, the monk chronicles the author relies on became over-cited in the text- William of Tyre this and William of Tyre that. The content is a mixed bag both standard and modern. There’s nothing new here in regards to historical interpretation. The modern comes into play by focusing on non-queen women, whose stories, while interesting, don’t add a whole lot to the overall picture. I ended up becoming very disappointed with the book the further along I read. So, I give this one a 3. It’s an interesting viewpoint and relatively short. But, the writing becomes slower and dryer the further along one read and, in the end, there’s really nothing new to the historical interpretation of the Crusades. Still, might not be a bad introduction to the topic for someone who doesn’t want to read pages and pages of military history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    Very good and enjoyable! Dan Jones was amazing as usual. A lot of this was a refresher for me because of a college class I took about Europe in the high middle ages. We covered the start of the Crusades and into other areas. I've also found a fantastic podcast that's all about the various Crusades, so I've listened to a lot of the history. Just a fantastic book! I really want to own it for my shelves. Very good and enjoyable! Dan Jones was amazing as usual. A lot of this was a refresher for me because of a college class I took about Europe in the high middle ages. We covered the start of the Crusades and into other areas. I've also found a fantastic podcast that's all about the various Crusades, so I've listened to a lot of the history. Just a fantastic book! I really want to own it for my shelves.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    I picked up this book to read as primer to Sharon Kay Penman's new book, which comes out this month. I knew bits and pieces about the Crusade in the Middle Ages, mostly from reading Penman. Dan Jones delves much deeper, giving you a study from the very beginning, when Pope Urban II called for The Kings in the West to recover the Holy Lands from the "barbarians". He covers all the events that occurred from 1091 to the fall of Acre in 1295. You might think this was dry reading. IMHO it was anything I picked up this book to read as primer to Sharon Kay Penman's new book, which comes out this month. I knew bits and pieces about the Crusade in the Middle Ages, mostly from reading Penman. Dan Jones delves much deeper, giving you a study from the very beginning, when Pope Urban II called for The Kings in the West to recover the Holy Lands from the "barbarians". He covers all the events that occurred from 1091 to the fall of Acre in 1295. You might think this was dry reading. IMHO it was anything but. Jones is a wonderful story teller and made the reading seamless and enjoyable. Recommended for history nerds like me ;)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Moira McGeough

    Whew, I finished it! I like Dan Jones' approach to writing history for the general readership, this was such an epic venture it could easily have become dry and dusty. He avoided this by presenting the events of centuries of crusading through various people of note in each period. What a motley lot, the good, the bad and the downright mad. Many moons ago at school I was taught a bit about the crusades, mainly Richard the Lionheart's involvement, it was quite an eye opener to discover just how wi Whew, I finished it! I like Dan Jones' approach to writing history for the general readership, this was such an epic venture it could easily have become dry and dusty. He avoided this by presenting the events of centuries of crusading through various people of note in each period. What a motley lot, the good, the bad and the downright mad. Many moons ago at school I was taught a bit about the crusades, mainly Richard the Lionheart's involvement, it was quite an eye opener to discover just how wide ranging crusader activity was. The whew at the beginning was because of the book's length, I had to take a couple of breaks and read other things just for a change. Well researched and on the whole a balanced account of a very interesting period of history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey

    (Note: I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley) “Crusaders” is definitely an ambitious take on a subject that has already had so much written about it. Dan Jones goes well beyond the Levant and Egypt to also include the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula, the oft-forgotten Baltic Crusades, Sicily, and elsewhere throughout three different continents. Despite the hefty reach over both its geographic and chronological range, it successfully avoids turning into a bog of place names, names (Note: I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley) “Crusaders” is definitely an ambitious take on a subject that has already had so much written about it. Dan Jones goes well beyond the Levant and Egypt to also include the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula, the oft-forgotten Baltic Crusades, Sicily, and elsewhere throughout three different continents. Despite the hefty reach over both its geographic and chronological range, it successfully avoids turning into a bog of place names, names of rulers, and dates. The finely crafted historical narrative keeps its path intact all the way from start to finish. The only mild complaint is that there definitely were points where I felt the coverage of certain items felt a bit thin. But then again, trade offs will be inevitable in the construction of a history that will be both accessible and expansive. And considering all that it needs to encompass, “Crusaders” does the best job that it can possibly do striking that balance between accessibility and and detailed depth. Overall, Dan Jones has pulled together a history that is quite impressive in its simultaneously intimate yet sweeping review of the religious wars whose influence continues to reach out to the present day.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rei A

    When I learned about the Crusades in school, it was a very basic "These Western European Christians went to the Middle East in a religious fervor to capture the Holy Land away from Muslims" deal and while some of that summary is true, there's a lot more to the Crusades than that, as this well-researched book notes. Yes, there was a heavy dose of religious belief and fervor involved, but also xenophobia, racism, land, prestige, wealth, and trade involved in the successive waves of the Crusades of When I learned about the Crusades in school, it was a very basic "These Western European Christians went to the Middle East in a religious fervor to capture the Holy Land away from Muslims" deal and while some of that summary is true, there's a lot more to the Crusades than that, as this well-researched book notes. Yes, there was a heavy dose of religious belief and fervor involved, but also xenophobia, racism, land, prestige, wealth, and trade involved in the successive waves of the Crusades of the Middle Ages. I didn't know that there had been Scandinavian Crusaders and hadn't thought to connect the Reconquista with the Crusades as well. Also, Christian Europeans attacked Jews and pagan tribes of Europe during this time as well, sanctioned by the Church. I learned a ton reading this, but it was a LOT of information and names and it'll take me a bit to parse it out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    Such a great read. Superb. Review to come. —————— IIIIIII CAAAAAAAAAAN'T WAAAAAAAAAAAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yeah, I rated it already, what'cha gonna do about it? Such a great read. Superb. Review to come. —————— IIIIIII CAAAAAAAAAAN'T WAAAAAAAAAAAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yeah, I rated it already, what'cha gonna do about it?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    A balanced and we'll done look at the crusades. This would be a good starting point for people who only know about the period from what they learned in HS or a 101 history course. As always in a book of this scale some parts of the era are skimmed over and that can be frustrating at times but overall a book worth reading. A balanced and we'll done look at the crusades. This would be a good starting point for people who only know about the period from what they learned in HS or a 101 history course. As always in a book of this scale some parts of the era are skimmed over and that can be frustrating at times but overall a book worth reading.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Henri

    My first Dan Jones book. Very much worth all the effort.

  20. 4 out of 5

    F.

    Truthfully this would be a 2.5, but I'm rounding up. I'm interested in history still, but it's getting harder and harder to find the exceptional ones the older I get and the more I've read. Sifting through a sea of mediocrity benefits one with knowledge, but rarely with pleasure. Jones' book is well researched and packed with information. It's an easy read that wasn't nearly as dry or boring as many others on the subject and time period, but I can't say that I was thoroughly impressed. Would rec Truthfully this would be a 2.5, but I'm rounding up. I'm interested in history still, but it's getting harder and harder to find the exceptional ones the older I get and the more I've read. Sifting through a sea of mediocrity benefits one with knowledge, but rarely with pleasure. Jones' book is well researched and packed with information. It's an easy read that wasn't nearly as dry or boring as many others on the subject and time period, but I can't say that I was thoroughly impressed. Would recommend to hardcore fans of history, the Crusades, or those doing research for Grad School or something similar.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    I probably shouldn't have read this. I've really liked previous books by Dan Jones that I've read, but that's because what he does fit with what I knew of the topics. Dan Jones is a pop historian. That's not an insult, but it just means he tells tales to a broader audience more than doing original research. You're going to get a well-done twice-told tale rather than an original perspective. But.....I already knew this tale. I've already read about the Crusaders. So I just get to re-read what I'v I probably shouldn't have read this. I've really liked previous books by Dan Jones that I've read, but that's because what he does fit with what I knew of the topics. Dan Jones is a pop historian. That's not an insult, but it just means he tells tales to a broader audience more than doing original research. You're going to get a well-done twice-told tale rather than an original perspective. But.....I already knew this tale. I've already read about the Crusaders. So I just get to re-read what I've already read without too much new added to the mix.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason Wilson

    Via Audible. As the author explains, the book is called Crusaders as the generic name of crusades was not applied to what was several conflicts over four centuries till much later . Thus the narrative is angled from its participants . Broadly this works well a is cogent though I was glad I had read other stuff about this period first. The book is even handed about all sides; the internal power struggles among both Christians and Arabs, and atrocities ( the book points out that some of these were n Via Audible. As the author explains, the book is called Crusaders as the generic name of crusades was not applied to what was several conflicts over four centuries till much later . Thus the narrative is angled from its participants . Broadly this works well a is cogent though I was glad I had read other stuff about this period first. The book is even handed about all sides; the internal power struggles among both Christians and Arabs, and atrocities ( the book points out that some of these were not unusual by the standards of their own time ) and its account of the legacy of the crusades in modern dialogue about terrorism etc. makes for a sobering coda. Both Christian and Muslim rulers had some mixed motives in terms of uniting and extending their reach, before a third force, the Mongols, made things more complex. This is one of those periods we tend to wring our hands about in self disgust now in over compensation for the imperial zeal of the past ; the pendulum of thought swings from one side to the other before hopefully finding the mature centre. There are complex factors to be taken into account, and while this doesn’t excuse everything it does mean that viewing the past through a modern liberal prism doesn’t really work. So what to make of it ? Like Tony Blair’s WMD, an Arabic threat to the west is difficult to judge, but the threat to Byzantium was unquestionably real. Is there theological justification for the zeal to save Jerusalem when holy places as such are kind of an old covenant thing ? I don’t know, but some of the forgiveness- for- fighting rhetoric was undoubtedly medieval indulgence theology at its most dubious. Jones is a good reader of his own work and this was a good listen.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shaun A

    An utterly fascinating and absorbing read. I knew little of the Crusades before embarking on this book. Now I feel I have a thorough overview of the people, places, time, events and motivations that went on. Dan Jones navigates around 450 years of history to give a thorough and balanced account of the 'wars for the Holy Lands'. All the major characters and events are here, illuminated by first hand accounts of the time and secondary sources. Famous players such as Richard the Lionheart, Saladin a An utterly fascinating and absorbing read. I knew little of the Crusades before embarking on this book. Now I feel I have a thorough overview of the people, places, time, events and motivations that went on. Dan Jones navigates around 450 years of history to give a thorough and balanced account of the 'wars for the Holy Lands'. All the major characters and events are here, illuminated by first hand accounts of the time and secondary sources. Famous players such as Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and Genghis Khan bestride the scenes. Many less familiar characters also come thrillingly back to life, such Enrico Dandolo, the blind Doge of Venice who in his 90s sacked one of the most important cities in Christendom, Constantinople. There are also cameos from those great in wider history if not the Crusades themselves, such as Saint Francis of Assisi and Christopher Columbus. Jones transports you into the time. His detailed accounts of the brutal, bloody and merciless warfare on all sides are unflinching; the catalogue of campaigns and battles is exhaustive. His analysis of the political and worldly motivations of the leaders is insightful and enlightening. From the opening, he is clear that Crusading was as much about personal, worldly gain as it was about spiritual aims. He admirably lets the history speak for itself and draws conclusions and summaries that are just and compassionate, and alway feel apt given the evidence that has been presented.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marc Gerstein

    Disappointing. After having read Jones’ book on the Templars and found it to have given way too little on the Templars and way too much of a dry play-by-play, battle-by-battle narration of the Crusades, I thought this book, which was offered as a series of accounts of individual vignettes of different kinds of people, would be more interesting It wasn’t. It was really the same old play-by-play narration only re-packaged. Maybe there’s something about the topic itself. The Crusades was, actually, Disappointing. After having read Jones’ book on the Templars and found it to have given way too little on the Templars and way too much of a dry play-by-play, battle-by-battle narration of the Crusades, I thought this book, which was offered as a series of accounts of individual vignettes of different kinds of people, would be more interesting It wasn’t. It was really the same old play-by-play narration only re-packaged. Maybe there’s something about the topic itself. The Crusades was, actually, a very lengthy historical epoch which included many completely different campaigns. Perhaps writing a truly interesting human account of the topic may be as impossible as it was for Crusader armies to long maintain their Holy-Land kingdoms. Or maybe the Crusades should not be treated as a singular topic; i.e., as the Franco-Prussian War, WWI and WWII are all treated separately rather than in singular books entitled “The German War.” Or maybe I should just wait for a future lifetime inn which I come back as a historian and try to do a better job myself. Then again, judging by the number of 4- and 5-star reviews Jones gets, I suppose there is a market for slash-by-slash battle chronologies and he knows how to monetize it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands covers the events leading up the first Crusade through to the 9th. Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands examines the complex origins, and uses, of the Crusades that originated in the call from Constantinople that provided the impetus to start them off and then examines the many varied ways that they were used over the centuries. Jones really shows the what the characters of the events went through examining all the dif Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands covers the events leading up the first Crusade through to the 9th. Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands examines the complex origins, and uses, of the Crusades that originated in the call from Constantinople that provided the impetus to start them off and then examines the many varied ways that they were used over the centuries. Jones really shows the what the characters of the events went through examining all the different sides of the events taking place throughout the book. At the same time the book is told ion modern way with things clearly explained so it can serve as a great guide to the events of the time. Clear and concise and really recreates the events of the time clearly! Brilliant and highly recommended! Get it When You can!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeroen van Deelen

    This was breathtaking. Dan Jones is a master storyteller who radiates eloquence and authority. He manages, seemingly effortlessly, to bring to life the history of nearly 400 years of crusades. The convictions, the motivations, the schemes, the atrocities, the structures, the conflict - this book has got it all. Jones offers an incredibly well researched, thorough and elaborate history of the wars for the holy land, whilst also managing simultaneously to provide an absolutely thrilling story that This was breathtaking. Dan Jones is a master storyteller who radiates eloquence and authority. He manages, seemingly effortlessly, to bring to life the history of nearly 400 years of crusades. The convictions, the motivations, the schemes, the atrocities, the structures, the conflict - this book has got it all. Jones offers an incredibly well researched, thorough and elaborate history of the wars for the holy land, whilst also managing simultaneously to provide an absolutely thrilling story that engages and, above all, fascinates. Not only did I learn a lot about the history of the crusades, it made me desperate to find out even more about it. It is, I believe, a very good sign that after nearly 500 pages, I still could not get enough.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sara G

    Simply wonderful, although I did get bogged down in a few places - it's not the author's fault that all the Norman and French crusaders were named Louis, Henry/i, and Richard! This book covers the history between the beginning of the first crusade through the fall of Acre in 1295, with some mention of other "crusades" that happened later like the fall of Constantinople and modern-day terrorism. As always, I enjoy Dan Jones's writing style. He's informative without being dull, and you can tell th Simply wonderful, although I did get bogged down in a few places - it's not the author's fault that all the Norman and French crusaders were named Louis, Henry/i, and Richard! This book covers the history between the beginning of the first crusade through the fall of Acre in 1295, with some mention of other "crusades" that happened later like the fall of Constantinople and modern-day terrorism. As always, I enjoy Dan Jones's writing style. He's informative without being dull, and you can tell that he has real passion for the subject. I play a video game called Crusader Kings and have for years, so it was really fun to read the history behind my favorite game.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Irina

    This is the second book by Dan Jones that I've read so far; the first was The Plantagenets. I really like his writing style. The book is funny, it's detailed, it provides a nice overview of the events related to the crusades in Mediterranean *and* in Europe up until 14th century. He discusses the causes, the consequences, the context. I also appreciate how Jones focuses on portraying the people involved. One of my (many) favourite stories is about the famous daughters of Baldwin II: Melisende th This is the second book by Dan Jones that I've read so far; the first was The Plantagenets. I really like his writing style. The book is funny, it's detailed, it provides a nice overview of the events related to the crusades in Mediterranean *and* in Europe up until 14th century. He discusses the causes, the consequences, the context. I also appreciate how Jones focuses on portraying the people involved. One of my (many) favourite stories is about the famous daughters of Baldwin II: Melisende the Ruler of Jerusalem, Alice, Hodierna, and Ioveta.

  29. 4 out of 5

    T P Kennedy

    It's a good general popular history of the period. That said, 300+ pages is not much space to treat of such a long and complex series of events. I found this frustrating as fascinating characters and critical moments in human history were glossed over. Crusaders works as an aperitif but I will need to look elsewhere for more detail and nuance. It's a good general popular history of the period. That said, 300+ pages is not much space to treat of such a long and complex series of events. I found this frustrating as fascinating characters and critical moments in human history were glossed over. Crusaders works as an aperitif but I will need to look elsewhere for more detail and nuance.

  30. 4 out of 5

    William Gill

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book because it was so stuffed with tidbits of information I had either never heard or had understood from a different historical perspective. I don't agree with Jones's sardonic assessment of crusading, but I thought he kept his skepticism to a minimum most of the time and wrote a very readable and entertaining one volume history. He is a gifted writer who writes for his audience, and that helps with the writing of history even more than with fiction. No need I was pleasantly surprised by this book because it was so stuffed with tidbits of information I had either never heard or had understood from a different historical perspective. I don't agree with Jones's sardonic assessment of crusading, but I thought he kept his skepticism to a minimum most of the time and wrote a very readable and entertaining one volume history. He is a gifted writer who writes for his audience, and that helps with the writing of history even more than with fiction. No need to go into the plot, because the title says it all. If you are looking for a good secular account of the crusading movement there are much worse places you could start.

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