God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades
Fed up by Western views of the Crusades as episodes featuring European greed, racism, and religious bigotry unleashed upon an innocent and progressive Islamic world, noted historian and religion scholar Rodney Stark has set out to restore balance to the history of this clash between Muslim and Christian. He does this rather well in a brief survey which seems to be aimed at the average reader rather than his fellow academics. Ranging from Urban II’s call for crusade at Clermont in 1095 to the final struggles in the early 1300s, Stark presents a compelling view of a Europe engaged in a series of counteroffensives in response to years of Muslim aggression. He steadfastly rejects any whitewashing of Christian outrages but is equally determined to present a survey of the Crusades and the Europe of the time based on a rational and fact-based worldview untouched by inappropriate guilt at alleged European imperialism. This is an account certain to raise eyebrows and stimulate arguments in student seminars and coffeehouses in wide areas of both West and East.