European and Arab versions of the Crusades have little in common. What the West remembers as an epic effort to reconquer the Holy Land is portrayed here as a brutal, destructive, unprovoked invasion by barbarian hordes. When, under Saladin, a powerful Muslim army - inspired by prophets and poets - defeated the Crusaders, it was the greatest victory ever won by a non-European society against the West. The Arab version of the Crusades is a heroic story of how the Muslims overcame their rivalries and united long enough to win a holy war. Amin Maalouf has combed the works of Arab chroniclers of the Crusades, many of them eyewitnesses and participants in the events they describe. Intriquing and entertaining, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes is a vivid portrait of a society nearly destroyed by internal conflict and shaken by a traumatic encounter with an alien culture. Maalouf offers fascinating insights into the historical forces that even today shape Arab and Islamic consciousness. 295 pages, paperback from Shocken Books.
The author has combed the works of contemporary Arab chronicles of the Crusades, eyewitnesses and often participants. He retells their story and offers insights into the historical forces that shape Arab and Islamic consciousness today.
AMIN MAALOUF was director of the weekly international edition of the leading Beirut daily an-Nahar, and was also editor-on-chief of Jeune Afrique.
"The Crusades Through Arab Eyes may be warmly recommended to lay-readers and students alike."
The Times Literary Supplement (London)
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