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The Crusades Paperback – Oct 1 1999

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Paperback, Oct 1 1999
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About the Author

David Nicolle PhD was born in 1944 and was educated at Highgate School. For eight years he worked in the BBC Arabic Service. In 1971 he went 'back to school', gaining an MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a PhD from Edinburgh University. For some years he taught art and architectural history at Yarmuk University, Jordan. David has written many Osprey titles, including Men-at-Arms 140 'Armies of the Ottoman Turks', Men-at-Arms 320 'Armies of the Caliphates 862-1098', and Campaign 43 'Fornovo 1495'.

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the Jews. Such activity was condemned by the Church and was often an excuse for mere extortion. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Way too big of a task for a single Essential Histories volume. Feb. 21 2008
By Chip Hunter - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first volume in the enormous Essential Histories series from Osprey Publishing. If you're considering reading these books, I wouldn't recommend starting with this one. If you do, please realize that this one isn't a very good representative of the series. Most of the volumes are excellent, with a good blend of detailed accounts of individual battles, interesting descriptions of historical figures, and informative information about the general setting and attitudes of the time. This volume utterly fails in all of those categories.

I'm not placing all of the blame on the author however. Osprey Publishing was simply a bit overzealous in thinking that it could cover a series of events that took place over hundreds of years in a single 96-page volume. Whereas the Civil War and Napoleonic Wars are covered in four volumes each, and World War II in six, the entire series of individual crusades is covered in a single volume. What you end up with is a very brief skimming of the overall picture and outcome of the Crusades. Hardly any time at all is spent on individual crusades, much less individual battles (which you get so much of in other Essential Histories).

Also, throughout this book the author downplays the importance of the Crusades to the people of the Mediterranean and Middle East. What he fails to adequately portray is the long-standing and powerful beliefs and feelings that these events have cast on history ever since.

The only really good part of this book is the multitude of excellent pictures, showing everything from architecture to weaponry of the time. Still, of the Essential Histories I've read, this was my least favorite and definitely the least informative. I recommend starting with others.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Cliff Notes of military history April 2 2006
By Hiram Grant - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The "Essential Histories" series from Osprey could easily be compared to the Cliff Notes series. They'll give you a nice introduction to a topic you are not familiar with, but no real depth. Most volumns are under 100 pages; therefore, don't expect many "man in the trenches" stories.

A nice introduction, but once again, a bit too much time period to make it one of the better books in this series. But for a 88 page book on the subject, it's well done.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre intro to the Crusades July 15 2009
By K. Murphy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The text of this Osprey title merely rehashs topics that are addressed, in greater detail (and perhaps, greater accuracy) in thousands of other books. Richard Hook's color plates add a lively splash of color, and are accurate if selective in the events and warriors they portray. As others have stated - this is far to grand a topic for a book of 60 pages to attempt to discuss in any detail - this book is a mediocre introduction to the Crusades that is rescued by some exciting artwork.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Crusades Sept. 1 2011
By C. Repicky - Published on
Format: Paperback
Osprey Books are a must for the modeler and reenactor. The info is concise and the plates and images are invaluable to help put together any reproduction. There are so many to choose from it makes the head spin, but they're worth the purchase.
Nicolle makes a heroic effort but can't overcome the extremely limited format Nov. 13 2013
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has read any medieval European history knows about the Crusades, or thinks they do. But the whole period, from the First Crusade in 1096 to the Eighth in 1270, covers more than two centuries. The motivations of the Europeans in each case were somewhat different, the enemies they faced varied over time, and arms and strategy evolved through extended contact with the Middle East. The crusaders were able to establish a series of military states on the Levant that lasted for nearly a century, but which were ultimately doomed. And if the whole exercise was meant to be the "liberation" of the original seat of Christianity from Islam, well, that failed, too.

Nicolle is good at military history and he's a very good writer, but there's just so much you can do with a survey of so large a subject that is limited by the format of the book to a dozen pages. The following sections on the establishment and subsequent loss of the Crusader states, and on siege warfare, are also good but far too brief to be really useful. I began to think that perhaps Osprey should have broken this subject into three or four books in order to incorporate a useful amount of detail -- but a bit of subsequent research shows that they've done exactly that, with new volumes being published between 2005 and 2011. Richard Hooks color plates (one of the principal selling points in any Osprey book) are quite good, by the way, and cover the whole period.

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