Author Archives: Andrew Holt Ph.D.

About Andrew Holt Ph.D.

Dr. Andrew Holt is Professor of History at Florida State College at Jacksonville. Prior to his appointment at FSCJ in the Fall of 2010, he taught various history courses at the University of North Florida, Santa Fe College, and the University of Florida. He is co-editor (with James Muldoon) of Competing Voices from the Crusades (Oxford, 2008), Seven Myths of the Crusades (with Alfred J. Andrea) under contract with Hackett Publishing, and is also currently co-editor (with Florin Curta) of Great Events in Religion: An Encyclopedia of Pivotal Events in Religious History (3 Vols.) under contract with ABC-Clio. He has also published numerous scholarly essays in edited volumes or academic reference works and is the former editor of the crusades section of the Oxford Bibliographies Online (offered by Oxford University Press). He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Florida and his primary areas of study/interest include the crusades, ecclesiastical history, medieval Islamic history, gender history, and the modern Middle East. He has had been invited on several occasions to provide commentary and analysis on current events in the Middle East on local television and radio programs in N. Florida. He is also a former U.S. Marine and the proud father of three beautiful children. Along with his wife and children, he is very slowly (and painfully) working toward his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.

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 34 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: 15 “Most Important” Books on the Crusades

See also: The Most Influential Crusade Historians

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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

Some Thoughts on Palestinian Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Above Image: Taken in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem (July, 2016).

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While shopping in a small gift shop in the Israeli city of Nazareth last summer, I recall engaging in some small talk with the local shop owner, who over the course of our conversation told me he was a Palestinian Christian. At one point, and I don’t recall what I said to prompt the declaration, he exclaimed “We were the first Christians!”

Nazareth is, after all, the hometown of Jesus Christ and has had a significant continual Christian population from much of the last two millennia. I smiled and he laughed and then we completed my purchase of a small crucifix for my son. For some reason, the shop owner’s proud words have stayed with me since the trip and often come to mind when I think of the Palestinian people that I met during my time there. Continue reading

100 Million Victims of Communism

As a college professor, I occasionally receive solicitations by non-profits to bring their speakers or films to campus. Such organizations cover a broad range of ideologies and causes. Most recently, I received an interesting email from the College Programs Manager at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), which bills itself as a “501(c)3 founded by a unanimous act of Congress in 1993.” The email notes that the VOC “exists to educate individuals about the history, ideology, and legacy of communism” and that their efforts have “touched students in all 50 states on 100 different campuses.” Then I was encouraged to consider hosting an event in partnership with the VOC at my college, for which they offer film screenings, lectures, and panels.

I am not familiar with the VOC and so I would want to investigate the organization much more carefully before I would consider inviting them to campus, but on the surface, based on what little I know of them, I find their stated goals admirable. Many young students born after the fall of the Soviet Union have little idea of the impact communist ideology on various societies during the era of the Cold War. As a former Marine, coming from a family in which my father served in the Navy during the height of the Cold War and my brother served in the Marine Corps in the early 1980s, at a time when the propaganda war between the Soviet Union and the U.S. was at one of its high points, I have long been aware, on a somewhat personal level, of the threat communist ideologies once posed to the western world. We have all also became aware of the high level of Soviet communist penetration into many facets of U.S. society during the Cold War once it ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of previously secret sources that reflected the extent of that penetration.  Moreover, while later completing my Ph.D. at the University of Florida under the direction of the great medieval historian Florin Curta, who himself grew up in the communist state of Romania, and was conscripted into its military where he served as a paratrooper in its army, I was introduced to the various hardships and depredations of such a system on a much more personal level through the eyes of my now friend Florin.

Based on his experiences living under communist rule, Continue reading

Guest Essay: Was Lincoln a Racist?

Above Image: Abraham Lincoln “The Emancipator” (Park Plaza, Boston).

Guest post by Alfred J. Andrea

In the recently published Seven Myths of the Civil War (Hackett Publishing Co.), one of the book’s six authors, Ian Patrick Hunt, confronts head on the dual issue of Abraham Lincoln’s private opinions and official positions regarding African Americans. Through his nuanced analysis of the evolution of Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts and actions, Ian Patrick Hunt puts to rest the oft-repeated charge that the sixteenth president of the United States  was a racist. But the question remains, was he “The Emancipator,” as this statue in Park Plaza, Boston proclaims? Known as both the Emancipation Memorial and the Freedmen’s Memorial (due to the original’s having been funded by freed slaves), this copy of Thomas Bell’s statue was presented to the city in 1879. The original stands near Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.  Consider its imagery. A larger-than-life Lincoln places his right hand on the Emancipation Proclamation that rests on a pedestal, thereby bringing to mind his presidential inauguration when he placed his hand on a Bible. Assuming a heroic yet benign posture, he towers over a kneeling former slave. Unseen in this photograph, a whipping post draped in cloth stands behind the two men. This is a powerful statement, but how true is it? Continue reading