The Crusades: The World's Debate
Publisher: Cavalier Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Hilaire Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902, while retaining his French citizenship. Belloc wrote on myriad subjects, from warfare to poetry to the many current topics of his day. He has been called one of the Big Four of Edwardian Letters, along with H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and G. K. Chesterton, all of whom debated with each other into the 1930s.
Nearly a thousand years ago, the Crusades helped shape the world we live in today and as such Hilaire Belloc takes the mantle of writes a history close to what actually happened in the Holy Land. The Crusades: The World's Debate is undoubtedly a brilliant analysis of what the Crusaders and their experience turned out to be. From the devastating battle of Manzikert to the taking of Jerusalem to the Moslem opponents and the fatal defeat at Hattin, Belloc spares no insignificant detail about how the state of the Crusaders were at each moment of the expedition. Furthermore, Belloc goes into detail about the state of European affairs, familial rivalry, West vs. East, and of course, the Mohammedan hordes that would at first falter, but later unite to remove the Christians. Overall, a great insight in what happened with the First or Great Crusade and why it failed and left us with a Holy Land in the hands of non-Christians.
Another great piece of history from Hilaire Belloc. In my opinion, it has been vastly superior in portraying a more truthful representation of what occurred than any common public school textbook could. It has also been a fun read and was so compelling, I couldn't put it down. Belloc writes with a certain tone that isn't exact (not least with the documents we have), but still manages to "hit the nail on the head". I'm amazed that I was ignorant of what really happened from 1095-1187, but thankfully know I know better and I'm glad I read it. 5 stars, although I wish I could give it more.