These timely volumes trace centuries of conflict between Christians and the followers of other faiths, including Islam. Medievalist Hindley (The Shaping of Europe) concentrates on the best-known aspect of the Crusades: the struggle between Islam and the West for control of the Holy Land. But he also looks at other crusading ventures, e.g., the northern crusades against the pagan peoples of the Baltic coast and the destruction of the Cathars, followers of a heretical dualist form of Christianity, which decimated Provence over several decades and brought it under French control. Harris (Byzantine studies, Royal Holloway, Univ. of London) focuses on the interplay between the crusaders and their ostensible allies, the Byzantines, taking a fresh look at events that in little more than a century led to the sack of Constantinople by crusaders pledged to battle Islam and recapture the cities of the Holy Land. The capture of the greatest city of Christendom by fellow Christians has been broadly interpreted as either the result of a clash of civilizations or an accident-a fatal chain of events leading to an unforeseen tragedy. Harris advances a third view-that the key lies in the ideology informing the political elite of the Eastern Roman Empire, who held that the Eastern Roman Empire was a continuation of the Roman Empire, that the new nations of Western Europe were occupying Roman lands, and that the Byzantine emperor had been set over all Christians, not just his immediate subjects. The subsequent misunderstanding and resentment led to the sack of Constantinople. Well written and convincingly presented, these volumes are valuable additions to the study of the crusades and of Byzantium. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.