Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review for 'The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land' by Thomas Asbridge

The Crusades: The War For The Holy Land was written by Thomas Asbridge and published by Simon & Schuster UK. The book is set for release in January of 2010. We at WebbWeaver were asked by Simon & Schuster UK to review this title based on a 100 page excerpt and reference materials with maps. We graciously accepted their request and we were quite pleased.
We began our journey into The Crusades with Chapter 13, 'To Crusade' and continued through Chapter 16 'Lionheart'.
In late summer of 1187 Archbishop Joscius of Tyre, set sail for the West. Since Saladin's overtaking of the Holy Land, the most powerful men in the Latin world had become compelled to take up the cross and engage in the campaign and call to arms known throughout history as The Third Crusades. Among the most powerful were Frederick Barbarossa, Emperor of Germany and Phillip II Augustus, the young King of France. But it would be Richard the Lionheart, King of England who would rise as champion of the christian cause and challenge Saladin. The two would meet head to head in the Third Crusades, pitting King against Sultan.
Saladin's rise to power had grown quickly but his taking of Jerusalem marked the beginning of his real trials of leadership and would almost certainly become his downfall. It was much easier to conquer a land than to rule it. The battle between Christendom and the Jihadists is highlighted in great detail, re-enforced with artwork and maps that strategically place the reader directly in the heart of the conflict as it unfolds. We are witness to the first battle where the Christians are finally in a position to go on the offensive and begin the task of attempting to reclaim that which has been taken by Saladin but, a shift in the tides results in mass casualties and the Christians are defeated on the plains of Acre.
The turn in Christendom's favor begins when three and a half years after taking up the cross, King Richard I of England, finally sails into Palestine on June 8, 1191, bringing with him much needed supplies, re-enforcements and positive morale for the weary. Abandoned by the King of France, Richard the Lionheart would step up as a leader and king making the world know his intentions to reclaim the lands Saladin had taken.
After the execution of over 2,600 Saracens due to a broken treaty he and Saladin had entered into together, Richard the Lionheart was free to lead the Third Crusades on to victory. He would do this with the help of many including, the Templars, Poitevins, Normans and the English.
Though he may not be responsible for the turn in The Third Crusade, it is widely believed that Richard's contribution of outward gallantry just may have been the deciding factor in the direction the Crusades would take. The battle at Acre would indeed drive Saladin's forces into retreat however it would not signal the end of the Third Crusades, though it would bring Richard the Lionheart to the brink of victory.
The Crusades is an intricately and beautifully woven tapestry of historical proportions.
Though we have not had the pleasure of reading the book in its entirety, the small part of the journey we took with the writer was entrancing and enlightening. We are quite anxious to read more on the Crusades and that interest was sparked by our reading of three small chapters from The Crusades.
WebbWeaver is giving The Crusades:The War For The Holy Land a 4-spider rating. We would recommend this to any history lover and anyone who has ever wondered about or questioned the past. Pick up Thomas Asbridge's book at, you are sure to be pleased.
CK Webb & DJ Weaver

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