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Historians Rank the “Most Important” Books on the Crusades

“As I write these words, it is nearly time to light the lamps; my pen moves slowly over the paper and I feel myself almost too drowsy to write as the words escape me. I have to use foreign names and I am compelled to describe in detail a mass of events which occurred in rapid succession; the result is that the main body of the history and the continuous narrative are bound to become disjointed because of interruptions. Ah well, “’tis no cause for anger” to those at least who read my work with good will. Let us go on.”

Anna Comnena, Alexiad 13.6, trans. by E.R.A. Sewter

Provided here are the responses of several medieval historians who were asked to provide a list of the top ten “most important” books on the crusades. Many of them are leading scholars in the field. Hopefully, it will be a useful resource for both students and interested readers. For more information, please see the Crusade Book List Project and to see each historian’s list click on their name below (or you can scroll and browse through them below). Please hit the back button to return to the contributor’s list. Also, check back in the future for additional contributions that will be added over time. This will be an ongoing project.

See also: The Most Influential Crusade Historians

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The Third Crusade and the Siege of Acre: An Interview with Dr. John D. Hosler

Next month my friend and fellow medieval historian Dr. John D. Hosler will be doing the unthinkable for many academics in that he is giving up his tenured position as a full professor at Morgan State University, where he has taught for the last twelve years, in exchange for a position with the U.S. Army. To be clear, he is not joining the Army, in the traditional sense, but is instead taking what will undoubtedly be a fascinating position as an Associate Professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. As someone who cares deeply about those who serve in our military, wishing to see them receive the very best possible support, I could not be happier to know John will be acting in this role. Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Wesley Moody on Seven Myths of the Civil War

As seen in the video below, I recently had the chance to interview my colleague, Dr. Wesley Moody at Florida State College at Jacksonville, on the popular myths of the U.S. Civil War. Wes is an expert on the U.S. Civil War and has published his fourth book (forthcoming from Hackett Publishing) on the topic with a series I am co-editing with Dr. Alfred J. Andrea. The book includes the contributions of seven leading U.S. historians considering some of the most controversial issues related to U.S. Civil War history. We soberly discuss them here.

Special thanks to Professor Isaac Brown and his students at Florida State College at Jacksonville, particularly Lance Hunt, for their efforts in producing this. I hope we can make more of these on other key topics in the future.

“Readers of this book who thought they knew a lot about the U.S. Civil War will discover that much of what they ‘knew’ is wrong. For readers whose previous knowledge is sketchy but whose desire to learn is strong, the separation of myth from reality is an important step toward mastering the subject. The essays will generate lively discussion and new insights.”
—James M. McPherson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

 

The Most Influential Crusade Historians

(Originally Published on 7/27/2017- Most recent update on 8/27/2017)

In a recent blog post, I requested the lists of several medieval historians ranking the ten “most important” books on the crusades. Currently, 28 historians have submitted their lists (with more scheduled to come in). Based on a count of the lists submitted so far, and not including books mentioned in the annotated commentary provided by each historian, I have pulled together the following ranking based on whose books have received the most mentions. Continue reading

Saladin’s Legacy: Some Thoughts

Above Image: Cover image of Yaacov Lev’s excellent book Saladin in Egypt (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

The Egyptian Sultan Saladin (r. 1171-1193), a Sunni Muslim Kurd, is often celebrated for his chivalrous virtues and deeds during the crusading era. In popular modern film and literature, in both the east and the west, Saladin is depicted as a man of honor and reason, not swept up in the religious passions of his day, and thus a sort of modern role model for enlightened behavior in times of conflict. Yet such heroic popular narratives of medieval military leaders are rarely, if ever, fully accurate and in Saladin’s case there is considerable evidence to demonstrate he was much more of a man of his times than suggested by otherwise romanticized views of his career. Continue reading

Medieval Historians and their Military Service

Above Images: (left to right) Professor Laurence Marvin of Berry College, Professor Patrick Geary of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Professor Florin Curta of the University of Florida.

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When I was working on my Ph.D. in history, I believed that I was the only student in the graduate program at the University of Florida that had any military experience. I may have been wrong, but I was not aware of anyone else who had served. Continue reading

Seven Myths of Africa in World History: An Interview with Dr. David Northrup

Above Image: David and Nancy, his wife of 46 years, hiking the Andes in 2017.
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Respected historian Dr. David Northrup is the author or editor of no fewer than ten well-received books, as well as dozens of peer-reviewed articles. Although he retired from Boston College in 2012 after thirty-eight years of service there, he began teaching more than fifty years ago, as a teacher and Vice-Principal of the Central Annang Secondary School in Nigeria during his time in the Peace Corps. He then served as a history instructor at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama from 1968 until 1972, before beginning his time at Boston College in 1974. David has had an outstanding career and is, unquestionably, one of the world’s leading scholars on African history. Needless to say, when I learned that my friend and co-series editor Alfred J. Andrea had recruited David to contribute a book to our Myths of History Series for Hackett Publishing, I was elated. Continue reading