Review #30: God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman

If you’re looking for a book about the Crusades, this should probably be your go-to. This book is incredibly comprehensive and well-researched, and includes more information about the Crusades than I even knew existed. It’s physically enormous (lugging it to class every day last semester gave me back pains), but that just reflects the attention Tyerman gave to his subject.

This book covers every European crusade from 1096 to 1500, exhaustively recounting the actual events and political workings of each in addition to exploring the major themes and trends, both religious and secular, of the time. He gives an excellent overview of the beliefs that ultimately led to the rise of crusading, and really helps a modern reader understand why they were so popular. He also does a very good job of presenting events in a generally unbiased way, giving the reader the perspectives of the people being attacked in addition to the expected Euro-Christian points of view. I really appreciated this, as it gave a more complete picture of the time period and helped contextualize the events of each crusade.

This book is historical nonfiction, and can be a bit dry at times. Overall, though, Tyerman makes his prose engaging and includes fascinating tidbits about the people and places he is discussing to help keep the reader intrigued. I love learning about the crazy lives of European royalty, and this book has plenty of that.

If you’re a history buff, or are just looking to learn more about the Crusades, this is a really good place to start. It’s a slow read, but it’s very interesting and informative.

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