Synopses & Reviews
In 1095, with the tomb of Jesus still in the hands of infidels and the Byzantine empire overrun by Muslim Turks, Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and their swords against the Turks and then recover the holy city of Jerusalem from Islam. It was to be the first of the Crusades, a holy war that would focus the power of the European kingdoms against a common enemy. The Crusades became the stuff of romantic legend, but in reality they were a series of rabidly savage battles carried out in the name of Christian piety to advance the power of the Western Church. Their legacy of religious violence is felt today as the age-old conflict of Christians, Jews, and Muslims persists.
Karen Armstrong, the bestselling author of A History of God, enters the minds of kings and sultans, popes, saints, assassins, and simple pilgrims, skillfully presenting the Crusades from the perspective of all three traditions and with a view toward their profound and continuing influence.
"Karen Armstrong is a genius." A. N. Wilson, author of Jesus: A Life
"Holy War brings compassion, objectivity, breadth, and imagination
to the most urgent crisis of our time." The Boston Phoenix
"Erudite, balanced, and lucidly written....[Provides] a mine of useful information on Muslim-Western perceptions of each other....An important book." Library Journal
"A tour de force....Any reader will come away from this book with a better frame of reference for assessing todays headlines." The Kansas City Star
"It is hard to regard [Armstrong's] views on the contemporary Middle East as anything other than naive. Her history is worse....She approaches the crusades with a bulky portmanteau full of moral values and misconceptions, and her depiction of events is cruelly distorted. A causal link undoubtedly exists between the Crusades and European anti-semitism, but it is absurdly slanted to blame the Crusades for all later instances of Christian intolerance towards other faiths. This can only be done by stretching the meaning of the term 'crusade' until it becomes totally nebulous....Armstrong's emotional approach and lurid prose style do not help matters." Norman Housley, The Times Literary Supplement (London)
A penetrating narrative history of the Crusades that reveals the ominous links and parallels between those medieval clashes and the violent rivalries of the Middle East today.
Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of A History of God,
skillfully narrates this history of the Crusades with a view toward their profound and continuing influence.
In 1095 Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and reconquer the Holy Land. Thus began the holy wars that would focus the power of Europe against a common enemy and become the stuff of romantic legend. In reality the Crusades were a series of rabidly savage conflicts in the name of piety. And, as Armstrong demonstrates in this fascinating book, their legacy of religious violence continues today in the Middle East, where the age-old conflict of Christians, Jews, and Muslims persists.
About the Author
Karen Armstrong is the author of Islam and the recent bestseller Buddha as well as The Battle for God and A History of God. In fall 2001 she will be Scholar in Residence at Lowell House, Harvard University.