"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).

Friday, May 4, 2012

The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse

As I have noted several times before, interest in the Crusades remains high; so does gross misunderstanding or tendentious misrepresentation of them. A new book from Jay Rubenstein, who teaches medieval history at the University of Tennessee, has just been released, this time focusing in a particular way on the first Crusade: Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse (New York: Basic Books, 2011), 424pp.

About this book, the publisher provides this titillating blurb:
At Moson, the river Danube ran red with blood. At Antioch, the Crusaders— their saddles freshly decorated with sawed-off heads—indiscriminately clogged the streets with the bodies of eastern Christians and Turks. At Ma’arra, they cooked children on spits and ate them. By the time the Crusaders reached Jerusalem, their quest—and their violence— had become distinctly otherworldly: blood literally ran shin-deep through the streets as the Crusaders overran the sacred city.
Beginning in 1095 and culminating four bloody years later, the First Crusade represented a new kind of warfare: holy, unrestrained, and apocalyptic. In Armies of Heaven, medieval historian Jay Rubenstein tells the story of this cataclysmic event through the eyes of those who witnessed it, emphasizing the fundamental role that apocalyptic thought played in motivating the Crusaders. A thrilling work of military and religious history, Armies of Heaven will revolutionize our understanding of the Crusades.
We are having this expertly reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies in 2012.

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