"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Crusades

I recently received a new book that attempts to rebut much of the nonsense talked about the Crusades and present a proper understanding of the history in a much more "popular" and "accessible" form:

Rodney Stark, God's Battalions: the Case for the Crusades (HarperCollins, 2010), 276pp.

This will be reviewed in Logos next year. The publisher tells us about this book:

It always seems counter-intuitive to moderns that warfare and religion can be consistent. Ideally, followers of the prince of peace are to avoid the sword and shield. Clearly, this has not always been the case. Frequently in the crosshairs of critics are the Christian wars against Muslims known as the Crusades, commonly viewed as the birth of European imperialism and the forced spread of Christianity. But what if we've had it all wrong? What if the Crusades were a justifiable response to a strong and determined foe? Stark, a prominent sociologist and author of 27 books on history and religion, has penned a compelling argument that these bloody encounters had less to do with spreading Christianity than with responding to an ever more dangerous enemy—the emerging Islamic empire. There is much to be learned here. Filled with fascinating historical glimpses of monks and Templars, priests and pilgrims, kings and contemplatives, Stark pulls it all together and challenges us to reconsider our view of the Crusades.

Another new volume will be reviewed soon in Logos by the scholar of Eastern Christian-Muslim relations, Sydney Griffith, of the Catholic University of America, who has been researching and writing about these relations for more than three decades. Griffith's own book, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, is an extremely important recent volume that I use in my courses on Eastern Christianity and Islam.

Christopher MacEvitt, The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance (U. Pennsylvania Press, 2008), viii+272pp. 

Jonathan Riley-Smith is quoted on the jacket of MacEvitt's book calling it a "first-rate piece of scholarship that will have a major impact on the field of crusade studies and medieval history in general."

Finally, Thomas Asbridge's new The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land (Ecco/HarperOne, 2010), 784pp.

will be reviewed by the Crusades scholar Michael Lower of the Dept. of History at the University of Minnesota. Lower did his doctorate under Riley-Smith at Cambridge. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...