God's War. C. Tyerman [Retail: ePub/Mobi]

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Book Description
Publication Date: October 4, 2007
The story of how a group of warriors, driven by faith, greed and wanderlust, carved out new Christian-ruled states in the Middle East is one of the most extraordinary of all epics. The crusaders' stunning initial success started a sequence of great Crusades, each with its own story, that fundamentally shaped the Christian and Muslim worlds for two centuries, until the last Crusader castles were finally expunged. The energy and commitment that sent army after army into the eastern Mediterranean also led to the invasion and conversion of Central and Baltic Europe, Spain, Portugal, the destruction of the Cathars in Provence and the settlement of America. Told with great verve and authority, God's War is the definitive account of a fascinating but also horrifying story.

We are still living with the images and legends of the crusades Tyerman tells us how the Church set about preaching the crusades, exploiting the perennial pessimism and guilt of the European nobility of the Middle Ages. He shows how crusading ideology penetrated the religious sensibility of the period, as well as its secular fiction and poetry Of all the modern histories of the crusades it is the shrewdest, the most reliable and the most complete.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This is likely to replace Steven Runciman's 50-year-old History of the Crusades as the standard work. Tyerman (England and the Crusades), lecturer in medieval history at Oxford University, demolishes our simplistic misconceptions about that series of ferocious campaigns in the Middle East, Muslim Spain and the pagan Baltic between 1096 and 1500. Abjuring sentimentality and avoiding clichés about a rapacious West and an innocent East, Tyerman focuses on the crusades' very human paradoxes: "the inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia; the elaborate, sincere intolerance; the diversity and complexity of motive and performance." The reader marvels at the crusaders' inextinguishable devotion to Christ even while shuddering at their delight in massacring those who did not share that devotion. In the end, Tyerman says, what killed crusading was neither a lack of soldierly enthusiasm nor its failure to retain control of Jerusalem, but the loss of Church control over civil societies at home and secular authorities who felt that religion was not sufficient cause for war and that diplomacy was a more rational method of deciding international relations. God's War is that very rare thing: a readable and vivid history written with the support of a formidable scholarly background, and it deserves to reach a wide audience. 16 color illus. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Review
This is likely to replace Steven Runciman's 50-year-old History of the Crusades as the standard work. Tyerman, lecturer in medieval history at Oxford University, demolishes our simplistic misconceptions about that series of ferocious campaigns in the Middle East, Muslim Spain and the pagan Baltic between 1096 and 1500...God's War is that very rare thing: a readable and vivid history written with the support of a formidable scholarly background, and it deserves to reach a wide audience. (Publishers Weekly (starred review 20060724)

Challenging traditional conceptions of the Crusades, e.g., the failure to retain Jerusalem, Tyerman believes that it was the weakening of papal power and the rise of secular governments in Europe that finally doomed the crusading impulse. This is a marvelously conceived, written, and supported book. (Robert J. Andrews Library Journal 20060915)

Christopher Tyerman, who teaches medieval history in Oxford, offers in his new and massive study of the Crusades as a whole a welcome synthesis for the general reader...Full of fascinating detail...God's War is a first-rate, scholarly, up-to-date, and highly readable survey of the entire crusading movement...In the gullible age of The Da Vinci Code, Tyerman offers a sane, informed, and gripping account of one of the most characteristic and most extraordinary manifestations of the Christian Middle Ages. (Eamon Duffy New York Review of Books 20061019)

Tyerman, an Oxford scholar, combines vigorous argument and nuanced analysis in this deeply learned chronicle of the Crusades...It's the best single-volume treatment of this still-controversial and fraught subject. (Benjamin Healy and Benjamin Schwarz The Atlantic 20061101)

A magisterial work...it is a shoo-in to become this generation's definitive history of the original Crusades, a series of military expeditions that temporarily returned the Holy Land to Christian rule in the Middle Ages. Hefty, encyclopedic and a darn good read, Tyerman's book has the rarest of virtues among myriad treatments of the subject: It doesn't bend history to preconceptions. (Ron Grossman Chicago Tribune 20061029)

Anyone who likes knights, castles and battles as much as I do will enjoy Christopher Tyerman's masterpiece God's War, a history of the Crusades written with great breadth, clarity and human sympathy: one of the achievements of the year. (Dominic Sandbrook Daily Telegraph 20061209)

With rekindled controversy about Western invasions of the Middle East, the Crusades of the late Middle Ages take on unanticipated relevance. It is thus a real boon for this strikingly effective book to appear at this time. The key to Tyerman's signal success is his ability to explain both the vicious brutality and the serious Christian altruism that were so intimately intertwined in the crusading experience and that have left such a tangled legacy for Muslim-Christian relations to this day. (Mark A. Noll Christian Century 20061017)

God's War is a long but highly readable account of this extensive back-and-forth struggle. It is an impressive achievement, a work that manages to tie together an extraordinary number of threads across nearly half a millennium of European history. Although it can be taken as a response to Pope Benedict XVI's comments at Regensburg, it is more properly read as an extended rejoinder to Steven Runciman's classic three-volume History of the Crusades, published in the early 1950s, a long and colorful account that is nonetheless studded with judgments that now seem prejudiced and amateurish. Tyerman, by contrast, is never amateurish. His knowledge of the period is encyclopedic, and his judgments are sharp, astute, and fair--which is to say unsparing--to both camps. He neither vilifies Islam nor engages in the easy Euro-bashing that is the obverse of Islamophobia. With so many people succumbing to subjectivism these days, it is bracing to come across a historian who remains resolutely above the fray, who insists on viewing the conflict as a whole and who always has the broader context in mind. (Daniel Lazare The Nation 20061211)

Christopher Tyerman's God's War is comprehensive, fascinating, and timely. It deflates comparisons of current U.S. strategies with the Crusades. True, the participation of religious in battle (like Odo on the Bayeux Tapestry) is noteworthy, but so is Tyerman's questioning of the cliché 'Age of Faith.' Indeed, while these books make the Middle Ages seem real, they also make it seem different, and our capacity to entertain the differences is morally crucial. (Tom D'Evelyn Providence Journal )

Christopher Tyerman's God's War: A New History of the Crusades is a doorstop of a book, a mammoth effort to retell, based on modern scholarship, the story of how Western Christendom made war to wrest the Holy Lands from Muslim hands. As we all know, this isn't considered ancient history in the Middle East. (Fritz Lanham Houston Chronicle )

This thick book compares favorably to Sir Steven Runciman's three-volume A History of the Crusades (1951-54), but where Runciman, writing a half century ago, saw the Crusades as Christianity's moral failure, Tyerman sees a violent era: neither Christians nor Moslems were peaceful, and both faced dangerous enemies...In addition to persuasive revisionist interpretations of individual crusades, Tyerman treats the broader scope of crusading, including Spain, the Balkans, and the Baltic. Most importantly for historians, the author sees nothing in the Crusades than can inform modem politics. (W. L. Urban Choice 20070301)

God's War is the new standard in the field...Adjectives for [it] almost fail. "Comprehensive," "monumental," and "epic" come to mind, and they are appropriate but scarcely adequate. In brief, this is a work by a master historian. (Alfred J. Andrea CT Review 20070701)

Christopher Tyerman...has written a tome that...draws on the most recent scholarship and offers fresh insights, demolishing myths galore. (A. G. Noorani Frontline 20070504) 

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