Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands

by Dan Jones

Hardcover, 2019



Call number



Head of Zeus (2019), 512 pages


"For more than one thousand years, Christians and Muslims lived side by side, sometimes at peace and sometimes at war. When Christian armies seized Jerusalem in 1099, they began the most notorious period of conflict between the two religions. Depending on who you ask, the fall of the holy city was either an inspiring legend or the greatest of horrors. In Crusaders, Dan Jones interrogates the many sides of the larger story, charting a deeply human and avowedly pluralist path through the crusading era. Expanding the usual timeframe, Jones looks to the roots of Christian-Muslim relations in the eighth century and tracks the influence of crusading to present day. He widens the geographical focus to far-flung regions home to so-called enemies of the Church, including Spain, North Africa, southern France, and the Baltic states. By telling intimate stories of individual journeys, Jones illuminates these centuries of war not only from the perspective of popes and kings, but from Arab-Sicilian poets, Byzantine princesses, Sunni scholars, Shi'ite viziers, Mamluk slave soldiers, Mongol chieftains, and barefoot friars. Crusading remains a rallying call to this day, but its role in the popular imagination ignores the cooperation and complicated coexistence that were just as much a feature of the period as warfare. The age-old relationships between faith, conquest, wealth, power, and trade meant that crusading was not only about fighting for the glory of God, but also, among other earthly reasons, about gold. In this richly dramatic narrative that gives voice to sources usually pushed to the margins, Dan Jones has written an authoritative survey of the holy wars with global scope and human focus"--… (more)

Media reviews

"History crackles in Jones’ assured hands. He finds bawdy humor to leaven some of the grim violence."
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"Jones’ focus on human characters and his strength as a storyteller are what make Crusaders a success."
"Jones’ sweeping coverage of a conflict of three centuries’ duration hews to the highest standards of popular history."
"The centuries of campaigning to reclaim the Holy Land retain their fascination, as demonstrated by this expert mixture of cutthroat politics, battlefield fireworks, and mass murder."
"Jones paints a vivid and accurate picture of the culture, politics, and personalities of the crusading period, covering vast swaths of history and many personalities with aplomb."

User reviews

LibraryThing member CarltonC
Dissatisfying albeit wide ranging story of the Crusaders in their wider sense by including the reconquista of Spain and expansion of the Teutonic Knights and others into the pagan Baltic states, as well as the far better known crusades to the Levant. Although successful both in conveying the broad
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sweep of the crusades and specific events and personages, it felt like too much of a slog. I didn’t feel enjoyment, just a need to carry on and see it to its end.
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LibraryThing member MacDad
What is there new to say about one of the most frequently written about events in human history? To his credit Dan Jones makes no grandiose claims about a fresh interpretation, but instead approaches the story from the standpoint of some of the key individuals involved: men and women who played a
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role in the various military campaigns and the Christian kingdoms they spawned. An accomplished writer with a gift for identifying the engaging detail, Jones writes about their lives in an entertaining narrative that makes for a good read.
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LibraryThing member Sosseres
I like history that is about the people, makes it much easier to care about what happens as something more than an intellectual exercise. This book did a good try at it but by trying to cover centuries of history in a few hundred of pages fails to do this for its entire length.

The part I disliked
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the most though was the epilogue tying into the usage of crusading in current times. It works but wasn't really a topic I was looking for or very interested in.
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LibraryThing member aadyer
A highly readable and discursive discussion about the crusades, both middle eastern and also Baltic and Iberian. Featuring good summarising narratives and concentrated on personalities, this is history with broad swathes of the brush. There’s some focus on Saladin and Richard the lion heart but
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only in context and their place in this saga of religious warfare is well cited. A good introduction
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LibraryThing member graeme.bell3
Yes! If ever a non fiction book would be made into a treble R movie this is it. Death (greek fire and a body count that just ASTRONOMICAL), lots of sex, monks telling how terrible all these crusades are everyone trying find treasure. BTW there is a short part for Edward I. (before he did for
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William Wallace). However NO MENTION of Robin of Locksley. Odd that.
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LibraryThing member JHemlock
Dan Jones is a fox in the hen house of History. He has a method that pushes the boundaries of what we think we know as we approach his work. And we leave it scratching our head for more. Jones is not afraid to point the reader in another direction and is not afraid to imply that he may not know
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everything. This book truly dials back the curtain on the world of crusading and while at times it may seem playful to the reader we know that it is a bloody and serious subject that has more than a little bearing on our modern day views of the world around us. I could never pick a favorite of his. It seems he gets a tad more personal in this book and throws his honesty around all corners of it. Between Asbridge, Jones and Bauer it would be a bloody fight indeed. But in the end Jones has the stamina as a historian and easily clenches the TKO with Crusaders.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

512 p.; 9.49 inches


1781858888 / 9781781858882
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