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Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World (1988)

de Karen Armstrong

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Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of A History of God, skillfully narrates this history of the Crusades with a view toward their profound and continuing in-fluence. In 1095 Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and reconquer the Holy Land. Thus began the holy wars that would focus the power of Europe against a common enemy and become the stuff of romantic legend. In reality the Crusades were a series of rabidly savage conflicts in the name of piety. And, as Armstrong shows in this fascinating book, their legacy of religious violence continues today in the Middle East, where the age-old conflict of Christians, Jews, and Muslims persists.… (més)
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Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of A History of God, skillfully narrates this history of the Crusades with a view toward their profound and continuing influence.

In 1095 Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and reconquer the Holy Land. Thus began the holy wars that would focus the power of Europe against a common enemy and become the stuff of romantic legend. In reality the Crusades were a series of rabidly savage conflicts in the name of piety. And, as Armstrong demonstrates in this fascinating book, their legacy of religious violence continues today in the Middle East, where the age-old conflict of Christians, Jews, and Muslims persists.

Review
"A tour de force. . . . Any reader will come away from this book with a better frame of reference for assessing today's headlines." —The Kansas City Star

"Holy War brings compassion, objectivity, breadth, and imagination to the most urgent crisis of our time." —The Boston Phoenix

"Erudite, balanced, and lucidly written. . . . [Provides] a mine of useful information on Muslim-Western perceptions of each other. . . . An important book." —Library Journal

From the Inside Flap
Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of A History of God," skillfully narrates this history of the Crusades with a view toward their profound and continuing influence.
In 1095 Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and reconquer the Holy Land. Thus began the holy wars that would focus the power of Europe against a common enemy and become the stuff of romantic legend. In reality the Crusades were a series of rabidly savage conflicts in the name of piety. And, as Armstrong demonstrates in this fascinating book, their legacy of religious violence continues today in the Middle East, where the age-old conflict of Christians, Jews, and Muslims persists.

From the Back Cover
“Ambitious…. Holy War reminds us that no one can understand conflicts like the Persian Gulf War without seeing the spiritual yearnings behind them.”–Detroit Free Press

About the Author
-----------------------
Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous other books on religious affairs—including A History of God, The Battle for God, The Case for God, Islam, Buddha, and The Great Transformation—and two memoirs, Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into forty-five languages. She has addressed members of the U.S. Congress on three occasions; lectured to policy makers at the U.S. State Department; participated in the World Economic Forum in New York, Jordan, and Davos; addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington and New York; is increasingly invited to speak in Muslim countries; and is now an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations. In February 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and recently launched with TED a Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public and crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion. She lives in London.
  tony_sturges | Jan 4, 2019 |
great overview but some writing errors, poor proofreading, and always such essays are in need of more footnotes. There were unsupported assertions that had to be assumed to be opinion or else not taken into account as fact. ( )
  MarYggdrasilin | Jun 26, 2013 |
GLOSSARY OF TERMS; BIBLIOGRAPHY; INDEX; PHOTOGRAPHS
  saintmarysaccden | Apr 16, 2013 |
Excellant summary of Crusader thinking, but stretches to connect that thinking to the modern middle east. ( )
  wamser | Nov 14, 2010 |
I found myself interacting with this book on a very personal basis. For the past two decades of my life I have lived cross-culturally in close contact with people from the Orthodox Christian perspectives, the Islamic perspectives, and the Jewish perspectives. I note that each of these embody numerous perspectives, each demonstrating their own prejudices. That personal history has challenged me to continuously evaluate my own perspectives, both good and bad. Karen Armstrong's book gave me yet another opportunity to engage in such self reflection. That, in my estimation, is the strength of this book.

Armstrong wrote that she wanted to approach her topic with "triple vision;" that is, examining the topic from the perspectives of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. This approach is one of the features that attracted me to the book. However, after an initial reading of the book, I was left more with the impression that she had provided this reader with more of a defense of the Islamic perspective than a full scope evaluation of all three perspectives.

As I read this book I found myself wanting more historical background to the complex relationship between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. To make the Crusades the starting point from which one builds an understanding of Holy War is completely inadequate. By the time of the Crusades, Holy War had some 3,000 years of history (interpretation and application) in Judaism. Armstrong fails to give serious consideration to that history, and instead, all but brushes it aside as the religion of some god bent on brutal conquest.

I would recommend this book for its challenge to us all to examine our perspectives regarding the people and cultures of this world. But read it with caution. Some of the situations she sites as negative examples of various attitudes--especially Christian attitudes--need to be examined more fully. Some of the author's descriptions are simplistic. They serve to prove her point, but the situations themselves often are more multi-facited than the reader of Holy War would think. ( )
  GAW | Feb 6, 2010 |
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For my dear friends Abdul Halim Zoabe of Nazareth, his Jewish-Israeli wife, Anat, and their sons, Salah Adam and Nizar Amir, who by making me a member of their family have been a crucial influence in my developing the "triple vision" that I have tried to articulate in this book.
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On November 25, 1095, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade.
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Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of A History of God, skillfully narrates this history of the Crusades with a view toward their profound and continuing in-fluence. In 1095 Pope Urban II summoned Christian warriors to take up the cross and reconquer the Holy Land. Thus began the holy wars that would focus the power of Europe against a common enemy and become the stuff of romantic legend. In reality the Crusades were a series of rabidly savage conflicts in the name of piety. And, as Armstrong shows in this fascinating book, their legacy of religious violence continues today in the Middle East, where the age-old conflict of Christians, Jews, and Muslims persists.

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