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Book A Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues History) by Thomas F. Madden (1999-10-03)


A Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues History) by Thomas F. Madden (1999-10-03)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | A Concise History of the Crusades (Critical Issues History) by Thomas F. Madden (1999-10-03).pdf | Language: UNKNOWN
    Thomas F. Madden(Author)

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  • Thomas F. Madden(Author)
  • Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (1830)
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Review Text

  • By Sebastien LaQroix on March 17, 2015

    I realized just how much I enjoyed reading this book when I finally got to the end and felt a twinge of disappointment that I finished the book. I also remember telling my wife to leave me alone just so I can finish a chapter of this fascinating account of the crusades. I'm no historian... calling me even a history buff might be too big an exaggeration. However, with the brouhaha that President Obama's crusades comment caused, I thought I would do some reading just so I can get acquainted with this historical period.First, something must be said about Thomas Madden's writing. I've read some complaints about his writing... calling it boring and hard to keep track of all the people. I beg to differ. I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Madden's writing. The writing kept me turning pages just to see how history would play out. This isn't your average dry history textbook, but an well-written narrative of a fascinating period in history.Some have also complained about Mr. Madden's bias toward the Christian West and against Islam. Whether that is correct or not, I found the narrative to be surprisingly even-handed. Mr. Madden does not gloss over the atrocities committed during the crusades, nor does he paint Islam as the benevolent religion of peace cruelly attacked by Christianity. Throughout the book, I see a clash between two different cultures, both capable of great atrocities. However, going beyond this, Mr. Madden tries to point out the reasons for why things happened the way they did. As a result, the image of blood-thirsty crusaders out for blood, power, wealth and empire disappears because you begin to see the real motivations behind these excursions. Anyone complaining that Mr. Madden is biased just because he tries to point out the motivations of the crusaders and place them within their cultural context is clearly biased in the other direction.I can say that I really enjoyed this book and feel like I know a little bit more than I did about the crusades. Mr. Madden's writing is easy to follow and keeps you turning the page. I can also say that I have no negatives to bring up. I'm not a history expert so I wouldn't know whether Mr. Madden's relating of the facts is completely untrue or not, but I did enjoy reading the book and defer to Mr. Madden in these matters as he is far more the expert than I am. Furthermore, I would encourage the potential reader to pay close attention to the title and realize that this really is a CONCISE history. If you want deeper treatment about any one of the various crusades, look elsewhere. This is simply a general history, albeit and extremely well-written one.

  • By Peter P. Fuchs on October 30, 2016

    I had to laugh when I happened to catch the author of this effort on the catholic propaganda channel on cable trying to whitewash the Spanish Inquisition. But then somehow the discussion careened onto the subject of Freemasonry. What amazed me was this. First that this historian thought that Speculative Freemasonry started in the mid 18th Century. (He actually corrected the priest interviewer who had it right that it started in the early 18th Century) But, OK, so he's a medievalist. Though it seems like pretty basic knowledge for anyone involved in European cultural history. But then he stumbled into talking about earlier Freemasons (The Operative Masons) and he did not seem to understand that all the later myths about their being connected with the Templars were not reflective of ANY reality of those figures at all historically. And mind you, the Operative Masons were not fringe characters in any way, but the actual builders of Medieval Cathedrals. Not a small matter in Medieval culture. Amazingly this scholar seems to be so misinformed about crucial characters in medieval history that he has accepted later confabulated notions of of the infamous nut Abbe Barruel as reflecting the actual history of actual medieval figures. I think this shows, in sum, how much you should trust his conclusions about medieval matters. The Catholic Church is great at arranging all sorts of honors for its propagandists. But this offers a window into a deep lack of honest critical assessment about the real matters at hand.

  • By A customer on June 13, 2001

    Having studied both Middle Eastern and European history at the graduate level I am always interested to see how scholars deal with the Crusades, since it is a subject that tends to show the unacknowledged bias of the authors. The author of this book, for instance, while cloaking himself in teh language of scholarship, is actually a good Christian who writes of the Crusades as their greatest supporter. He is outraged by any suggestion that the Crusades were motivated by anything other than piety and good faith -- "Pious idealism had brought these courageous knights to teh Holy Land . . ." he says at one point, sounding like a 19th century clergyman writing a children's book for Sunday Schools -- and scoffs elaboratley at Sir Steven Runciman's famous summary of the Crusades as "nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God." Madden adopts the idealized self-image of the medieval Crusaders as if it were perfectly true to reality, and literally cheers the Crusaders on all through the book. Here is his rather embarrassing summary of King Richard I of England: "Richard I was the epitome of French Chivalric culture. Well educated, well spoken, and even an accomplished poet, the Lionheart was also a bold man of action. A young man of 32 when he took the throne, Richard was an imposing figure -- tall, blond and physically strong. Like the knights of teh chansons de geste, he was a daring figure, placing himself in personal danger without a thought, always eager to take part in any clash of arms." (87) This is the sort of pangyric that any historian is trained to see through -- it's written to a formula for each king by his creatures, and Madden accepts it as if it were a simple portrait. As the book progresses and the various crusades invade the Middle East, Madden falls into teh old langauge problem that always assails Christian apologists: the Crusaders are brave, valiant, and pious; the Muslims always brutal and wicked. When the Crusaders slaughter Muslim people, it's passed over quickly and with little or no comment; when Muslims slaughter Christians, it's always dwelt upon as a great tragedy, described as a "massacre" and condemned as a product of Muslim brutality. But perhaps of of the funniest problem Madden gets into is his desire to redefine the Crusades as "armed pilgrimage," not as holy war, since this latter term he preserves only for Muslims (jihad), and consistently accuses them of hypocrisy when they declare a holy war to be rid of teh Frankish invaders. The reason for this hair-splitting? Simple enough: Madden wants to insist that the Crusades were not wars at all! They were pilgrimages that had to be armed to accomplish their goal of reaching Jerusalem and liberating it from teh wicked infidel! All the rest, he insists, is incidental. All of the endless seiges, the power struggles, the massacres, the battles, the destruction of teh population of entire cities -- all of this was just a series of footnotes to the wish of some good Christians to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. If that's not the most retrograde reading of the Crusades in the modern world, I don't know what is. And for all that, Madden is a well-meaning fellow, and he tries to be fair, but he just can't do it. He's too engrossed in the rhetoric of chivalric piety in his sources adn it overwhelms his good intentions. In teh end, he writes a competent academic treatment of the Crusades from a Catholci perspective, and if you like such a competence, then this book should serve. It's competence does not extend beyond that goal, however, and anyone interested in any degree whatsoever in the Muslim world will be sorely disappointed. For seculer readers, Runciman has certainly not been replaced.

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