Top positive review
The most important thing is telling the story within its prior 400 year perspective.
Reviewed in the United States on September 14, 2018
I started this history coming hot off an extraordinarily deep dive of the dark ages ending in the 10th century. The common sources from both sides are not new ... the book written 100 years ago would read the sources the same. The shortcoming is in a failure to adequately link the prior 400 years of Muslims vs all neighbors East and West.
The Crusade period must be approached with an understanding that there not a hint of modern geographic states to be related. The super powers of the age are Austrasia, Neustria, Teutons, the Eastern Empire, Mongols and 400 years of nearly invincible Muslims conquest. The author refers mostly to France, England and Germany.
The West is never unified in any practical way. The Crusader's were self funding. There was never a central command but literally dozens of part time and largely daft princes. Crusaders were motivated by personal, not collective redemption. Once redeemed in a month or year, hordes went home. A vast, reasonably unified geographic Caliphate rules Islam centrally commanded by 3 absolute Sultans. Islamic fighters were motivated by Muslim's Caliphate objective. Nothing personal.
The West was as close to not existing in the generations of 850-950 as precipitously as at any time since Salamis. Xtianity was a long shot fragment of it's former Charlemagne Holy Roman expansion. It’s future was TBD from out of the heretically saturated West. It’s fair to say that the single most important invention of 400 years of Dark Age was the stone walled castle and the great castle is the Crusader remains. It’s from Foulque (Falka) Nerra’s excellence in castle building that this story emerges. He would just happen to be devout to the pope.
It is an intentional historical revision to overlook 400 years of Muslim conquest before the Crusade Era counterattack. The author claims that there was no clear and present danger. It's just not possible to overlook the West's loss of Med free trade to Muslim state pirates, raiders, slavers, Greek Black Sea conquests, Italian boot wars and Adriatic adventurism. Iberia remained in deep and indeterminate Muslim war.
In the conclusion the author makes passing comment that the West would fight Islamic invasion into Europe for another 400 years and only stopped at the gates of Vienna.
This is the fault of this book is 21st century revisionism.
So, get past the introduction and conclusions … deep dive the names and places and enjoy the telling. It’s simply Islamic biased IMHO. The Levant and Jerusalem was seemingly irrelevant as Islam did not note the 1st Crusade. I do wish historians would redeploy the truth.