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Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Well written

The book is very well written. While it is clearly based upon extensive research, it left me with the nagging feeling that important details had been omitted. It also seems to be a bit biased against the crusaders in general and King Richard in particular.

posted by Anonymous on November 14, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Biased account but entertaining

If only things in real life were as black and white as this book portrays events between the middle east and the west. Not to detract from the overall skill with which the narrative was written, the book left me feeling a bit unsure as to the objectiveness of the author...
If only things in real life were as black and white as this book portrays events between the middle east and the west. Not to detract from the overall skill with which the narrative was written, the book left me feeling a bit unsure as to the objectiveness of the author. Of course, all history is written with a human bias, but Reston seems to clearly condemn the Christians every chance he gets. To start, this book attempts to be fair to both the western crusaders and the muslim defenders; in depth history is given about both protagonists (prior to their meeting during the third crusade) so we can perhaps empathize with them. However, once we reach the actual events in the middle east, Reston contiunally makes reference to the barbaric and crude personalities of the crusaders from the west. Even their champion, Richard the Lionheart, is said to be too brash and reckless. Even though this may be true, he is not given as much credit for his leadership abilities as Saladin, who is only portrayed as pious, righteous, brilliant, and merciful. Richard is criticized for slaying his muslim captives after the stalled concession talks after his capture of Acre, and rightly so, but Saladin is never belittled by the author when he slays his christians captives after the battle of Arsuf and during the march to Ascalon. This book is not without merit; the author writes in a light, sometimes whimsical narrative. He never gets bogged down with too many details or techinical aspects of the major battles, and keeps the story moving. His heavy reliance on the acounts of bards and court biographers must have made reporting the facts a hard task indeed. But he does a good job with taking the reader on a journey through those sweltering hot days in the holy land. If you are looking for unbiased and footnote heavy information on the third crusade, look elsewhere. If you want a quick novella on the subject, you've found it.

posted by Anonymous on August 5, 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2002

    Biased account but entertaining

    If only things in real life were as black and white as this book portrays events between the middle east and the west. Not to detract from the overall skill with which the narrative was written, the book left me feeling a bit unsure as to the objectiveness of the author. Of course, all history is written with a human bias, but Reston seems to clearly condemn the Christians every chance he gets. To start, this book attempts to be fair to both the western crusaders and the muslim defenders; in depth history is given about both protagonists (prior to their meeting during the third crusade) so we can perhaps empathize with them. However, once we reach the actual events in the middle east, Reston contiunally makes reference to the barbaric and crude personalities of the crusaders from the west. Even their champion, Richard the Lionheart, is said to be too brash and reckless. Even though this may be true, he is not given as much credit for his leadership abilities as Saladin, who is only portrayed as pious, righteous, brilliant, and merciful. Richard is criticized for slaying his muslim captives after the stalled concession talks after his capture of Acre, and rightly so, but Saladin is never belittled by the author when he slays his christians captives after the battle of Arsuf and during the march to Ascalon. This book is not without merit; the author writes in a light, sometimes whimsical narrative. He never gets bogged down with too many details or techinical aspects of the major battles, and keeps the story moving. His heavy reliance on the acounts of bards and court biographers must have made reporting the facts a hard task indeed. But he does a good job with taking the reader on a journey through those sweltering hot days in the holy land. If you are looking for unbiased and footnote heavy information on the third crusade, look elsewhere. If you want a quick novella on the subject, you've found it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    Warriors of God

    I thoroughly enjoyed Warriors of God by James Reston, despite a few inadequacies i noticed. His inability to make notations for his sources does not do anything for the credibility of his claims, such as his casual references to Richard the Lionheart's supposed homosexuality. This unsupported claim only lowers the credibility of the book. However, coming into the story with only a slight understanding of the events surrounding the Third Crusade, i found the book an extremely well written and engaging narrative. It reads almost more like novel than it does a historical narrative, and i think this is a plus. Altogether, an excellent narrative that gives the story of the Third Crusade in an engaging and interesting manner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2003

    Well written

    The book is very well written. While it is clearly based upon extensive research, it left me with the nagging feeling that important details had been omitted. It also seems to be a bit biased against the crusaders in general and King Richard in particular.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2012

    I couldn't put this book down. Saladin was as calm and confident

    I couldn't put this book down. Saladin was as calm and confident as any man ever born. Richard was wild and strong beyond imagination. I sense he could snap any man alive today like a twig. Yet they were equals. Fascinating. There is no telling which of these human virtues will prevail in battle. In the end, they agreed to terms.

    Reston perfectly captures this tension.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2010

    Interesting and Vivid Account of Third Crusade

    The book gives insightful details on the motivation and courageous actions of King Richard 'The Lionheart.' Ofcourse, some Hollywood directors may lament Richard's execution of Muslim prisoners at Acre. They wouldve preferred that he clothe and feed them-and forget about 'The True Cross.' The violence of the Crusades was just a continuance of religious violence. The Muslims wrested the Middle East from the Byzantines and the Europeans returned the favor. The book does neglect to speak about Al Hakim's destruction of the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre (1009 AD)-thus disrupting the safe treatment of Christian pilgrims-who had been previously granted freedom to worship.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2010

    Beyond a Standard history text

    Mr.Reston's book made me do additional research in medieval archives regarding the chroniclers of the third Crusade He enlightens one about Saldin's notoriety for mercy when he could safely grant it and Richard's egomaniacal quest for power, deceit, and self worth. I knw befor reading it that the Crusaders did many cuel things and were motivated by much more than Christianity namely power, comfort and wealth. Rightfully so for an inavding army that spent much of the time with nohing to occupy it during rainy months then again when they had a clear mission had to waitfor supporting seige engines and other necessary items for the campaign.

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

    All for the sake of loving your fellow brother

    Religion is an undertone for the overall moralizing both sides engage in. Realistically everyone has their own wonderful twisted reasons and ethical strife to deal with.

    The machinations and grotesque rationale in any of the compelling reasons to go to war or the siege du jour is reconfirmed.

    In order to best explain the political chaos and interrelationships, the book needs to be at least, twice as thick, yet as a conversational book for people to have be somewhat pseudo-intelligentsia, it works.

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  • Posted May 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good read, problems with perspective

    If you're looking for a book that invites you to immerse yourself in the world of the Crusades, then Warriors of God will be a very enjoyable read. However, as a work of history the reader should be sure to inform his/herself before believing everything in this book. While the subjects and their context are well developed, the author tends to make generalizations about the juxtaposition between modern day and historical reality. I've personally heard/read evidence that the muslims at the time did not conceptualize the Crusades as a "East vs. West"/"Clash of Civilizations" conflict; rather the Crusaders were people from a land they din't much concern themselves with who were in the Middle-East as simply another player-among-many fighting for political power. I do not think it is fair to implant our modern day internalizations of the *concept* of Crusade onto a historical analysis of the period. That said, the book IS interesting and you WILL learn about King Richard and Saladin. Both of these personalities are very well defined and portrayed in the text. The author also writes in a very engaging style that make the book very enjoyable to read. As long as the reader sticks to the guidposts of people, places, and things then the book is fine. Just be wary about the motivations and implacations.

    The "find a product" feature didn't work, but I assure you that B&N makes a Portable Professor audio course entitled "Sword and Cross". This is what I would recommend you listen to before reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2008

    Interesting and enjoyable

    If you are interested in the third crusade, Richard I of England, Phillip II of France, Henry of Champagne, Conrad of Montferrat, Guy of Lusignan, Saladin, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, you will enjoy this book. Nothing beats medieval drama!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2008

    3rd Crusade

    Most readable account of these engagements & the men involved I've come across.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2006

    For King Richard's fans Only

    The author goes on and on about Richard does show significant knowledge about the guy. However, he shouldn't have used the title 'wariors' in plural since there is not much about Saladin (except military strategies). the book is great for those who enjoy battles, not so much for biography.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005

    Of Irony, Tragedy and Comedy

    The work by Reston is both thoroughly entertaining and appropriately reflective in its scope and approach to history. The book fleshes out the good and bad of both figures unashamedly. It immortalizes the two titanic figures of the epic war into something close to hero worship, making for great reading. I suggest this work for any who are Westerners and who want to get an unbiased account of the Third Crusade.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2003

    Tedious & Difficult Read

    'Warriors of God' was a required summer reading for our school. It turned out to be a very hard read considering the little knowledge of Islamic terms and Christianity-related terms. There's very little support for facts, making it harder for students to comprehend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2002

    Well documented; unbiased; solid and unusually honest

    I was very impressed by the painstaking research that went into this work. Reston must have researched every extant contemporary work there is. We seem to live in a time that a work may be considered biased for its failure to lean toward the more popular side in controversy. Reston treats Richard and Saladin as similar characters in their times. I think we do learn a bit less about Saladin than about Richard, but the book gives a clear view of each and the political stresses operating in each camp. I am glad to have read this book and heartily recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2002

    3rd Crusade Revisited

    Good book. Very easy to read and provides good insight into the characters and actions of the people involved in the 3rd Crusade.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2001

    Waste of time

    This book may be read as fiction only. No 'facts' are backed up at all. Grand generalities and suppositions are used.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    Today is yesterday.....What a difference a thousand years make!

    What was once true remains true! Today, more than ever we need to understand the rival. This book does this with ease. If you want to understand the Arab and the Infidel's tale ...read this book. It has not changed at all!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2001

    A Great Read!

    Excellent scholarship without the heavy lifting to get through most PhD type works. He writes for the casual history liking reader. Truly fleshes out the characters with style. Too bad there is no Saladin in the Middle East today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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