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James Reston, Jr. is a journalist and the author of more than a dozen books, including The Last Apocalypse, Dogs of God, and Galileo: A Life. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Chronicling the often inglorious exploits during the third crusade (1187-1192) of King Richard I of England and Saladin, the sultan of Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Mesopotamia, Reston's panoramic narrative begins with the first crusade, launched by Pope Urban II in the last years of the 11th century. In the story's unfolding, we are privy to a world peopled by a bevy of characters, compelling and repulsive: starving, horse-and-grass-eating Christian soldiers, who, in sturdier moments, cut down the enemy with something akin to religious relish; mighty Muslim swimmers, traversing ocean waters and trailing leather pouches heavy with money and messages; the seafaring ghost of St. Thomas of Canterbury, urging onward fearful and flagging crusaders; Christian and Muslim men who betray gleefully savage contempt for women of all confessions. Some passages lend this account the flavor of historical fiction, complete with the requisite romance: a purported sexual liaison between Richard the Lionheart and King Philip Augustus of France. This is, nonetheless, a worthwhile introduction for those eager to be swept along by an often lively narrative thick with disturbing and provocative details. The interweaving of Islamic perspectives with those of Christians is especially valuable. This frankly accessible work may capture the imagination of those who have thus far resisted the pull of crusade history, presenting, as it does, both the extraordinary and less well known participants for whom this peculiar drama was the stuff of everyday life. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Prolific author and journalist, Reston (The Last Apocalypse, Galilio: A Life) offers the reader a captivating story in a lucid and often humorous style. In the process, he highlights the perennial religious volatility of the Holy Land. From 1189 to 1192 it was the Christians and Muslims who slaughtered each other in the name of their respective gods. The Third Crusade led to a mighty collision between two legendary warriors. Leading the Christians was the tempestuous and pious killer Richard the Lionheart. Guiding the Muslims was the sagacious and devout Sultan Saladin. Reston uses these two powerful personalities to weave a spellbinding medieval tale of ruthless devastation and chivalrous compassion. His sympathies are with the sultan, as he takes a dim view of Richard's "emotion quotient" he was definitely a king governed by sentiment. For a better appreciation of Richard's skills as a 12th-century ruler, see John Gillingham's Richard I (Yale Univ., 1999). Warriors of God is a fine example of narrative history and belongs in both academic and public libraries. Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Splendid and thrilling. . . . [A] wonderfully told story."--The New York Times Book Review "A refreshingly unbiased popular history of the Third Crusade which deserves a place on the shelf of every history teacher." --The Washington Post Book World "Reading this book, one sways between horror and exhilaration. The magnitude of human suffering is mind-boggling, but the warriors' adventures are the stuff of boyhood fantasy." --Forbes FYI "Remarkably intimate and engagingly detailed."--Kirkus Reviews