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God's Battalions: The Case for the…

God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades

by Rodney Stark

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I did like Stark's willingness to probe a bit further into history and explain the Crusades and events leading to them, than to accept what is, in some quarters, a tendency to just pass off the Crusades as another Christian murder spree. He cites different bodies of work, (and some are dated, but which historical writer does not cite some dated material - duh - writing history sometimes does involve old materials?!). He exposes some of the biases or unwillingness of other authors to look at the contextual and cultural factors of the Crusades on both sides. I certainly was not aware of how many Crusades there were, how they were financed, how their mission was portrayed to their participants, and who fought in them. That being said, I felt there was some choppiness in the book. I also wish that there would have been some more maps, or maybe some better ones, included by the author so the reader could get a better perspective on the participant movements and locations of some of the cities/territories mentioned. ( )
  highlander6022 | Mar 16, 2016 |
Kindle. I expected more from this book. I didn't know that much about the crusades so this was very informative. I think he's stretching to make the contemporary connection. Sends me back to wonder about some of his earlier books I have admired. But this was very interesting. How could these events really have happened. Reality is always stranger than fiction. A good context for all of those stories about KNight Templars, etc. . . . . . This is a recommendation if you want to know more about Crusades.
  idiotgirl | Dec 26, 2015 |
I really liked this is part because it reminded me of other books and people from this time in history I've read about in the past. So many interesting people so largely forgotten.

A brief history of the crusades. The book appears to be very well cited and even if you disagree with the author's conclusions you have to admit his did his research.

One of the main points of the book is not that the crusades were wonderful but that they are unfairly understood in a modern context as a great evil mentioned in the same breath as the holocaust or the Spanish inquisition. Mr. Stark makes a very strong case that this demonstrates a misunderstanding for the motivations behind the crusades, the surrounding morals and rules of warfare in that time, competing atrocities on both sides, and how brief the negative view of the crusades has been. He makes a strong case that there is no tradition of hate in the middle east based on the depredations of crusaders.

Interesting book.

So many opportunities for great movies with the great characters in History. People like Richard the Lionheart and Iron Arm the conqueror of Italy are two that appear briefly here. ( )
1 vote Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
Stark is right in saying that the crusades were not unprovoked. This, however, seems to be the most salient point he makes. On the whole, this work is quite tendentious. Stark relies too heavily on secondary sources. Furthermore, he uses his (limited) primary sources inconsistently and irresponsibly. This is a decidedly polemical pseudo-history that pushes well beyond what the evidence allows. With this attempt to offer a corrective reading of the crusades, Stark falls well short of his goal and probably does more harm than good. ( )
2 vote swaers | Sep 9, 2011 |
If you're looking for some good history on the crusades, without all the hate towards Europe, the West, or Christianity, this is a great place to start. Stark lays out the case that the crusades were in many ways a war not unlike so many others, but with a different motivation than many. He argues that Europe was responding to invasion by the Turks & Muslims; that the battle conduct of the crusaders was similar to the norm for the era (not unusually brutal); the Muslims were not somehow more enlightened or civilized than the Europeans (& thus deserving of our sympathy); and that those who went on the crusades did so at great personal or familial cost, not out of some desire for plunder. While he does this, he does not degrade the Muslims nor place the crusaders on a pedestal. He is fair, but realistic about both sides strengths and weaknesses. The result is a much more favorable treatment of the crusaders than many may be used to, but he is, in a sense, merely righting the balance. Eleven pages of bibliography allow you to follow-up on and check Stark's claims and while the book is written at a level that reads very easily, his conclusions are documented and he kindly includes end-notes. ( )
1 vote deferredreward | Feb 12, 2011 |
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In God's Battalions, award-winning author Rodney Stark takes on the long-held view that the Crusades were the first round of European colonialism, conducted for land, loot, and converts by barbarian Christians who victimized the cultivated Muslims. Instead, Stark argues that the Crusades were the first military response to Muslim terrorist aggession.… (more)

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