Monday, April 21, 2008

Contesting the Crusades, by Norman Housley

Even Web advertising has its place.

I first became aware of this book because it showed up on a regular basis on a friend's blog. It became one of the books I decided to consult early in my preparations for my upcoming Crusade and Jihad course. And I'm glad I did.

Contesting the Crusades is not an attempt at a zippy narrative of the events, but for a professional historian it has zip anyway. If you want to know what questions and aspects of the Crusades people have been debating for the last generation or so, this is a very good place to find out. Even though it is a book that mainly discusses other people's books and articles, it is very well-written. It passed the most relevant test when I found reason to read it out loud. My tongue felt good. Quite a contrast to another recent book which is a zippy narrative but is filled with stylistic errors like dangling participles and uncertain referents so that you have to read a paragraph twice to find out which Baldwin the author is talking about. Given the number of Baldwins that is no trivial matter.

Since I will have no students to talk to or lectures to give until September, you can expect that the number of " book" posts will increase. It's not so much that I will be reading more, but that I will have more time and motive to comment.

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