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The Crusades Through Arab Eyes Hardcover – Dec 1984

4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Al Saqi (December 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863561136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863561139
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
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Review

'A useful and important analysis adding much to existing western histories ... worth recommending to George Bush.' London Review of Books 'Well-researched and highly readable.' The Guardian 'A wide readership should enjoy this vivid narrative of stirring events.' The Bookseller 'An inspiring story ... Very readable ... Well translated ... Warmly recommended.' The Times Literary Supplement 'Very well done indeed ... Should be put in the hands of anyone who asks what lies behind the Middle East's present conflicts.' Middle East International --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Amin Maalouf was formerly director of the leading Beirut daily an-Nahar, and the editor of Jeune Afrique. His published works in English translation include Leo the African, Samarkand and Balthasar's Odyssey. He lives in Paris.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The arguments against this book are surprisingly vehement, but they seem to ignore one very large and glaring detail about it: the title. This book is not meant to paint an objective, all-encompassing view of the struggle between Islam and Christianity from the eighth-century onward. It is merely painting a picture of contemporary responses to the Crusades in the Muslim world of the time. Does it endorse them? No. Does it use them on some kind of attack of Christianity? No. As was stated before, the author is a Christian. So that little attack collapses rather easily, doesn't it?
We have a wealth of information the Christian response to Islam's rise. Look at the thousands upon thousands of volumes on Byzantium, the Papacy, and the Frankish Empire. In fact, we're so used to having the picture painted as 'evil Islam attacks defenseless Europe' that the Crusades almost axiomatically become 'justice' rather than what they were, which was an exercise in barbarity. And that isn't just barbarity against Muslims. It was barbarity against EVERYONE different. Crusaders murdered countless numbers of Jewish people on their march to the east, and even eventually ended up sacking and destroying the Orthodox Byzantine Empire in 1204 (Fourth Crusade). At the behest of the scheming Venetians, no less, who wanted a Latin Emperor. Muslim civilization counted among its strong points an extremely refined and advanced culture that was shocked by the unbelievable animal cruelty of the Crusaders. I am not attacking Christianity nor defending the invasions of Islam into Europe. But it is hardly fair to compare the Muslim rule in Spain, which was one of the most advanced and tolerant nations on the face of the planet, with the butchery of the Crusades.
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By A Customer on March 26 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a great guide to understanding of the current conflicts in Middle East.It is a meticulously prepared documentary.You will read in the book how barbaric the crusaders were when they were massacring the muslims,the jews on their way.The even performed a canniballistic party when they roasted and ate their foes in Ma-ara,Syria!Their aim was to retake the Holy Land.But they brought terror with no peers in stead.And you'll also read how the Arabs betrayed each other and made alliances with the enemy.By the way, you'll be astonished how deep rooted the terrorism was in MidEast as the elusive terrorist leader Hassan Sabbah(he was the head of Hashhasiuns-Assasins-) was organizing his men in the hideouts of northern Iranian mountains.It looks as if that little had changed to this day.
But those were the times when the elite of Europe were speaking Arabic-which they shun today-.And those were the glorious times when the science and medicine in Muslim world was far more superior than those of Christian west.
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Format: Paperback
This book is well described by its title. Amin Maalouf provides the historical perspective of the Crusades from the point of view of Arabs. Maalouf begins with the arrival of the Franj ("a word which is used in colloquial Arabic even today to designate Westerners, and the French in particular") and chronicles the conflict, ending with the conflict with the Mongols.
Maalouf utilizes the perspective of Arab historians of the day in order to give the book a high degree of legitimacy. This analysis based of primary sources is the reason that I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, and of course anyone who wishes to fully understand the Crusades.
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Format: Paperback
After reading four books on the crusades, and feeling exhausted on the subject, I read this book and not only was it good in its own right, but it pieced together many of the other books I read. I wouldsuggest reading this after you have read at least one book on the crusades.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The historian E. H. Carr tells us, “When we take up a work of history, our first concern should be not with the facts that it contains but with the historian who wrote it.” Thus it is interesting that Amin Maalouf was born in Beirut in 1949 to a Catholic (Melchite) family, and was educated at a francophone school run by Jesuits. He became a journalist, and moved to Paris in 1976 when civil war broke out among Lebanon‘s Christian and Muslim communities.

It appears that he has two conflicting identities, Arabic and Christian. As the title suggests, it is the Arab identity that dominates this narrative. Our “historian” is really a journalist and novelist. The author summary informs us, “Maalouf mixes fascinating historical facts with fantasy and philosophical ideas. In an interview Maalouf has said that his role as a writer is to create ‘positive myths’.”

There could not be a better description of this book. Carr reminds us that history is seeing the past through the eyes of the present, and our author is interpreting the Crusades though what is currently happening in the Arab world.

Imposing the Present onto the Past
-----------------------------------------------

A good example appears on the very first page of the Prologue. We are told that after fleeing from the conquest of Jerusalem to Baghdad, Abu Sa‘d al-Hárawi addresses the Caliph with a passionate speech asking for help. I looked up the source of that speech in the book [book:Arab Historians of the Crusades|287389]. [Search for the PDF version, or read my review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1250617672) of the highlights]. Most of what he quotes can be identified, except the line, “Never have the Muslims been so humiliated, never have their lands been so savagely devastated.
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