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Posted July 22, 2013
The subtitle refers to the Crusades and the Inquisition as “disputed questions.” In other words, the currently accepted notions that the Crusaders were the villains, committing atrocities against the infidels, and that the Inquisitors also were villains who indiscriminately burned an inordinate number of people at the stake are not settled matters.
In fact, with regard to the Crusades, the pendulum is swinging back to center from the "Christians as Villains" position, and the picture of Inquisitors as a white-robed army hunting down hordes of women and burning them as witches is also being revealed as a caricature. A more balanced treatment was needed, one that wouldn’t paint black-and-white pictures but would contribute to setting the record straight.
John Vidmar has written such a book. A historian at Providence College who has researched the Crusades and archivist of the northeastern USA Province of the Dominicans with access to extensive material, some of which relates to the Inquisition, he is eminently qualified to do so. He has considered the latest writing on the subjects and provided a balanced assessment of the situation that takes into account the recent work by such outstanding scholars as Philip Jenkins, Christopher Tyerman, and others, and steers a middle course between the extremes.
The author writes with a flair for narrative history and an obvious love of his subject matter. Noteworthy is the way he draws a connection between the Crusades and the Inquisitions (and he points out and explain the difference between the Roman and the Spanish Inquisitions). He brings his treatment of the Crusades up to the present day by reflecting on the timely issues of how this segment of our history impacts Christian-Muslim relations today.
To anyone interested in reading something that contributes to setting the record straight on the disputed questions of the Crusades and the Inquisition, I would highly recommend this book.