Review: How the Crusades Changed History

Just finished listening to How the Crusades Changed History.  It's not my typical time period, but as I mention below, I felt like it was one I should understand better. Here's the review I gave it on Amazon.

I'm giving How the Crusades Changed History three stars, although I may come back and change that later - if Amazon allows one to change their rating.
Bohemund of taranto
source: Wikimedia Commons

I've loved most of the Great Courses I've listened to so far. Generally, The Teaching Company does a great job of choosing lecturers who take an unbiased view. When they are biased, they're usually—though not always—forthcoming about their biases. For example, The The History of Christian Theology was taught by a Christian, but Dr. Philip Cary was pretty upfront about his personal beliefs. As an aside, he is one of my favorite lecturers. 

The reason I'm giving How the Crusades Changed History only three stars is because I'm not yet sure how one-sided these lectures were. Let me explain.

I picked this series up because I know almost nothing about the Crusades—other than what I learned from watching several variations of Robin Hood, of course. But this is a time in history that one should know something about. I had hoped it would give me some understanding of the conflict that continues to this day.

The first lecture started out well enough, with a discussion of how the concept of Jihad took root first in the Muslim tradition and later in the Christian tradition. But from there, the Muslims seemed to be only bit players in the story. It was mostly Christian against Christian. Occasionally, it was Christian against Jews, but they pretty much got it from all sides. The Muslims seemed like bystanders, only swatting at the army of flies sent to their region by some power hungry Popes—the latter not always chronologically singular. (See my comment on Christians against Christians.)

This may all be accurate, but I still feel like I didn't get the full picture. It's like trying to see a painting with some guy standing in the way. So, before I pass final judgment, I'll be getting a second opinion through some other resources. In the meantime, I highly recommend this series to anyone who is interested in getting one lecturer's very interesting and engaging perspectives.

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