From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This is likely to replace Steven Runciman's 50-year-old History of the Crusades as the standard work. Tyerman (England and the Crusades), lecturer in medieval history at Oxford University, demolishes our simplistic misconceptions about that series of ferocious campaigns in the Middle East, Muslim Spain and the pagan Baltic between 1096 and 1500. Abjuring sentimentality and avoiding clichés about a rapacious West and an innocent East, Tyerman focuses on the crusades' very human paradoxes: "the inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia; the elaborate, sincere intolerance; the diversity and complexity of motive and performance." The reader marvels at the crusaders' inextinguishable devotion to Christ even while shuddering at their delight in massacring those who did not share that devotion. In the end, Tyerman says, what killed crusading was neither a lack of soldierly enthusiasm nor its failure to retain control of Jerusalem, but the loss of Church control over civil societies at home and secular authorities who felt that religion was not sufficient cause for war and that diplomacy was a more rational method of deciding international relations. God's War is that very rare thing: a readable and vivid history written with the support of a formidable scholarly background, and it deserves to reach a wide audience. 16 color illus.
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1024pp Hardcover Book
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