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Publisher's Summary

When the Muslims swept out of the Arabian peninsula in the eighth century, one of the first areas to fall under their power was the Holy Land; it was an event that would have long term consequences for three distinct civilizations. The conflict between European Christians and Islam came to a climax near the end of the 11th century when Pope Urban II preached what we now call the First Crusade. However, behind the scenes was a swirling chaos of shadowy influences and personalities whose motivations and goals were not always easy to define. Most of the early crusaders were pious individuals who were motivated by the effort to free the Holy Land of infidels. But many in leadership roles had other ideas. And surprisingly, they were assisted by a fractious Muslim community whose divisiveness was thoroughly exploited by crafty Greek Byzantine diplomats and wiley Italian merchants.
Richard A. Newhall, a medieval scholar, has produced a masterful outline of this confusing period of history by paring the subject to an understandable unity. By keeping the history simple and beginning with the first Muslim onslaught against Europe, he shows how the term "crusade" really has a much broader meaning. By tracing the conflict as it wound its way into modern history, Newhall demonstrates that the strife between Islam and the West has never really ceased.
However, throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, the contact with the East had very profound effects on Europeans, including the rediscovery of lost classical authors like Aristotle, the introduction of new methods of mathematics and sciences, and a growing level of trade which eventually nourished the period we call the High Gothic. All of this spelled the beginning of the end for the Age of Faith, and it ushered in the Renaissance and the modern era. Discover how the dynamics of the crusades stimulated change in the Middle Ages and the consequences for three civilizations.
©2005 Audio Connoisseur
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Larry on 08-12-05

Need To Know Basics First

The first thing I noticed about this book is that it certainly didn't cater to first time readers of this time period. If you do not have a good grasp of the major players and names of this historic period then I would recommend that you look elsewhere. The one thing that was slightly disappointing about this book was the brief mention of major events of this period. More specifically the minor less known crusades were only mentioned in a paragraph or two. Some of the major events were not given into detail and were only briefly mentioned. Because of this some of the background of why things were done is missing which leaves readers with a "fast foreword" view of the history behind the actions. I did overall enjoy the book however. It had an excellent commentary at the end about the good things that came about from the crusades. I would recommend this as a good book for people already slightly familiar with the major political players and events of this time period.

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33 of 33 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Blackrobe on 10-25-05

Really, really good

Wow! I thought this book was great. Having said that I must say that it is not an easy listen. The names are strange, the places distant and the time was long, long ago when the world was a very different place from what it is today. I say this to describe why it is not an easy listen. I was constantly trying to place the people, the location or the historical occasion in context.

This is not a negative criticism of the book but rather a criticism of my knowledge of the era. I found the book interesting, educational and well written. It is not a book for everyone but for those looking for an analysis of the crusades, I think this book is great.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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