To understand the past is to understand the future. This is why history is so important.
Crusades, a book written by Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, accompanies a television series of the same name aired late at night on BBC Two, presented by Dr. Thomas Asbridge.
Dr. Asbridge examines the lives of Richard the Lion-heart of England and Saladin, two of the most prominent characters during the time of the Crusades.
Nine centuries ago Christian Europe was seized by a fever that changed the world. Inspired by a Pope who offered rewards on earth and a certain place in paradise thereafter, tens of thousands of men, women and children - knights and peasants, rich and poor, old and young - set out for the Holy Land to recapture the Holy City, Jerusalem, and save their fellow Christians from persecution by the Infidel.
Jones and Ereira do well to turn an ancient period in time into an interesting and compelling story of such credible importance, one of which affects the world as we know it. How they do it - by writing in a clear and concise manner, peppered here and there by anecdotes and subtle wit.
Many myths and legends surrounded the Crusades. Many heros emerged on both sides of the battle. Tales of rape and plunder were very common, stories of the Popes motivated by greed as well as faith, fables of power hungry nobles and Pilgrims on Crusade who murdered, robbed and raped not only Muslims but Jews and Christians also.
Key names during such times of Holy War consisted of not only Richard and Saladin, but of Philip Augustus of France and Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, and those Arab leaders such as Zengi and his son Nur ed-Din.
Illustrations in colour detail the events told, the authors show how the Europeans used the morality of the Crusades to justify the conquest and destruction of any society which stood in their way, sowing the seeds of fear, suspicion and even hatred in the Arab world - an aspect which is apparent to see today.