By Jonathan Phillips
Bodley Head, 2009
Synopsis: In his remarkable book, Jonathan Phillips explores the conflict of ideas, beliefs and cultures and shows both the contradictions and diversity of holy war. He draws on contemporary writings – on chronicles, songs, sermons, travel diaries and peace treaties – to throw a brilliant new light on people and events we thought we knew well. Although the notion of fighting for one’s faith fell into disrepute in the Enlightenment, Phillips traces the crusading impulse from the bloody conquest of Jerusalem in the First Crusade and the titanic struggle between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin up to the present day – to George W. Bush’s characterisation of the war on terrorism as a crusade.
Book Review by Eric Ormsby, New York Times – “This is the best recent history of the Crusades; it is also an astute depiction of a frightening cast of mind.”
Book Review by Robert Irwin, Literary Review – “Although Holy Warriors has been written for a general readership, its scholarship is meticulous and up to date. Phillips briskly discounts items of popular folklore about the crusades, such as the notion that landless younger sons formed a large part of the crusading expeditions to the East. Similarly, he does not think that it makes sense to regard colonialist land-grabbing hunger as an important motive for crusading.”
Book Review by Norman Housley, BBC History Magazine – “With its crisp management, accessible style and deft characterisation, this book stakes a strong claim to be the most appealing narrative account of the Crusades for a general audience.”
Book Review by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Financial Times – “In Holy Warriors, Jonathan Phillips delivers a history that brings the concept of the crusades up to the present, with both academic analysis and elegant storytelling.”