HarperOne, $14.99, 276 pages
The Crusades have long been a misunderstood period of time. God’s Battalions explores this era, showing not only the history of the wars themselves, but also the cultures involved at the time. It attempts to show that The Crusades have been misinterpreted over time, either as a weapon against the Catholic Church, by Muslims as a reason for hating Western culture, or by people in general as a reason why religion is a bad thing. It’s a fascinating study of that period of time, and Stark is able to back up his arguments.
This may sometimes get a little detailed, but it is never boring; although a number of sections threaten to overwhelm the reader, the writing is clear enough that the reader actually enjoys reading those sections. Stark points out any issues during his research, such as the number of soldiers that fought in a number of conflicts. The detail provided on the cultures explored is incredible, allowing a reader to get a full look at those cultures, be it the Muslims or Europeans. For anyone interested in history, especially medieval history, this is a great book, providing much needed illumination into a dark period of history.
Reviewed by Jamais Jochim