The Crusades Through Arab Eyes Hardcover – Dec 1984
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'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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Translated from the French, this book forgives no-one but does seek to set the record straight re The Crusades and the angst that we here in the west inherited as a result of our... Read morePublished 11 months ago by DDolsen
Some reviewers criticize this book as not being objective but it was never meant to be. This book is an attempt to approach the crusades from an Arab perspective by relying on Arab... Read morePublished on Aug. 27 2003
Not a bad book, that paints muslims colourfully as a poor little people constantly crushed by evil christians. It starts in 1099 with first crusade. Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2003 by Vavra Daniel
Having read several books about the crusades, I think this one is pretty much objective although viewed from a different viewpoint than the one westerners have been used to. Read morePublished on May 12 2003 by Bertrand Mueller
Finally, someone with the courage and knowledge was brave enough to illuminate readers about a much misunderstood and little debated period. Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2003
When trying to understand the crusades we must distinguish between the geopolitical situation the west was responding to and the resourses and manpower available to it. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2003