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In the eleventh century, a vast Christian army, summoned to holy war by the pope, rampaged through the Muslim world of the eastern Mediterranean, seizing possession of Jerusalem, a city revered by both faiths. Over the two hundred years that followed this First Crusade, Islam and the West fought for dominion of the Holy Land, clashing in a succession of chillingly brutal wars, both firm in the belief that they were at God's work. For the first time, this book tells the story of this epic struggle from the perspective of both Christians and Muslims, reconstructing the experiences and attitudes of those on either side of the conflict. Mixing pulsing narrative and piercing insight, it exposes the full horror, passion and barbaric grandeur of the crusading era. One of the world's foremost authorities on the subject, Thomas Asbridge offers a vivid and penetrating history of the crusades, setting a new standard for modern scholarship. Drawing upon painstaking original research and an intimate knowledge of the Near East, he uncovers what drove Muslims and Christians alike to embrace the ideals of jihad and crusade, revealing how these holy wars reshaped the medieval world and why they continue to echo in human memory to this day.
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`Powerful, assured and epic . . . departs radically - and successfully - from tradition . . . brilliantly exposes Muslim strategies and motivations' --James McConnachie, Sunday Times
`A compelling narrative that resonates inescapably with contemporary events . . . A masterful conclusion' --Malise Ruthven, Observer
`A dramatic and powerful look at both sides of the story . . . Our choice of the best recent books'
-- Sunday Times
`Brilliant, authoritative, and accessible, The Crusades is a must read. Asbridge balances impeccable scholarship with a gifted storyteller's engaging voice'
--Professor John L. Esposito, Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, and author of The Future of Islam
'Asbridge can't help but tell a ripping yarn, often breezily dramatic, whipping the narrative along' -- The Times
'Exciting, stirring, moving, horrific and a whole lot of other things as well . . . this book gives us narrative history at its best'
Why Islam crushed the crusaders: Thomas Asbridge explains why, for all their celebrated victories and burning religious zeal, the Christian warrior's attempts to wrest the Holy Land from Muslim control in the Middle Ages were ultimately doomed to failure. --BBC History Magazine
After 9/11 a flurry of histories of the crusades were commissioned but the story told by Thomas Asbridge, who teaches at Queen Mary's, is both compelling and revisionist. Told from both the Christian and Muslim perspectives, the narrative puts forward a balanced, though not sentimental, view of a conflict used by modern polemicists to justify holy wars. Asbridge presents a new BBC Two history of the crusades starting on January 18. --Daily Telegraph
Thomas Asbridge is Reader in Medieval History at Queen Mary University of London, and an internationally renowned expert on the history of the Crusades. His acclaimed The First Crusade is also available from Simon & Schuster.
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