The best books on the Crusades

Who picked these books? Meet our 39 experts.

39 authors created a book list connected to the Crusades, and here are their favorite Crusades books.
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Book cover of The Tyranny of the Night

K.V. Johansen Author Of Blackdog

From the list on with gods as characters.

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian writer with a degree in Mediaeval Studies. Even as a child, I wrote stories about characters who weren’t entirely human; they were also always people lurking on the edges of things—families, cultures, places, ways of being, even people existing only on the edges of becoming themselves. Those have always been where I found my stories and as an adult I haven’t lost this fascination and the need to tell such tales. Gods, assassins, devils, demons, shapeshifters, immortal wanderers, and ordinary people caught up in their history, vast, deep worlds, and complex charactersthat’s what I do. 

K.V.'s book list on with gods as characters

Discover why each book is one of K.V.'s favorite books.

Why did K.V. love this book?

I’ve loved Glen Cook’s work since reading The Black Company back in the eighties. Tyranny of the Night begins The Instrumentalities of the Night. Yes, the series isn’t finished. No, that doesn’t matter; each book might be part of a larger history but each is a satisfying story on its own, so read them anyway. A world of realistically complex late-medieval politics and mostly unpleasant gods with their own agendas that have little to do with the desires of their human worshippers. It’s a secondary world, but the fastest way to describe the main character, Else/Piper, is to say he’s a Janissary sent back undercover to the people from whom he was stolen as a boy, living as a double, or maybe a triple agent—but it gets more complex than that, as you’d expect from a) Glen Cook and b) a hero who begins his story by using artillery against…

By Glen Cook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tyranny of the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Moon, once a solitary wanderer, has become consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Together, they travel with their people on a pair of flying ships in hopes of finding a new home for their colony. Moon finally feels like he's found a tribe where he belongs. But when the travelers reach the ancestral home of Indigo Cloud, shrouded within the trunk of a mountain-sized tree, they discover a blight infecting its core. Nearby they find the remains of the invaders who may be responsible, as well as evidence of a devastating theft. This discovery sends Moon…


The Shield of Three Lions

By Pamela Kaufman,

Book cover of The Shield of Three Lions

Christina Dudley Author Of The Naturalist

From the list on when you dream of waking up in a period drama.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of traditional Regency romances who would be happy to let everyone fight over Mr. Darcy while I sneak off with Captain Wentworth. If period dramas are dress-up for grown-ups, the best historical fiction is nothing less than a trip in a time machine, no Dramamine required. So if you’ve ever dreamed of being knocked over the head and waking up in a Jane Austen novel, you’re not alone. Come join me in one of my Regencies. I’ll save you a glass of ratafia.

Christina's book list on when you dream of waking up in a period drama

Discover why each book is one of Christina's favorite books.

Why did Christina love this book?

I still remember the day I bought Kaufman’s book in a London bookstore near Westminster Abbey—a girl disguises herself as a boy in medieval England and goes in search of the king, so her estate can be restored. Sign me up! It was my first encounter with the magic of historical fiction, the best of which is immersive and alive, without dull data dumps or jarring anachronisms. This wonderful (and, for me, life-changing) story ticks all my boxes: smart heroine; rich, real characters; scenery that doesn’t creak; and a thumping good romance. Last, but absolutely not least, The Shield of Three Lions is stuffed with hilarious lines and scenes. An author who can make me laugh? Her price is far above rubies.

By Pamela Kaufman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shield of Three Lions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in the Alix of Wanthwaite series, by bestselling author Pamela Kaufman.

Eleven-year-old Alix is the daughter of the baron of Wanthwaite, whose lands along the Scottish border are among the best in England. But when her family is killed and her lands seized, Alix is forced to flee from the only home she’s ever known. Her one hope of restoring her inheritance is to plead her case to King Richard the Lion Heart, who is far away in France, preparing to go on his Crusade. Alix resolves to follow him. She cuts her hair, dresses as a…


Book cover of The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation

William L. Urban Author Of Teutonic Knights: A Military History

From the list on medieval Baltic history.

Who am I?

I became enthusiastic about the history of the Baltics when my dissertation advisor persuaded me to use my language training in German and Russian to test the American Frontier Theory in the Baltic region. None of the various theories were applicable, but I earned a Ph.D. anyway. Later I taught in Italy, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. I've written a number of books and won a Fulbright Hays grant, the Dr. Arthur Puksow Foundation prize, the Vitols Prize, and others. I retired in 2017 after fifty-one years of university and college teaching, but I would still be teaching if my hearing had not deteriorated to the point that I could not make out what shy students were saying. 

William's book list on medieval Baltic history

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

The Germans and Poles moved into a land inhabited by flourishing native tribes that have previously been understood only through the observations of German and Polish chroniclers.

Pluskowski shows that the native peoples had a sophisticated local economy that was hardly changed by the German conquerors. That is, wherever the Teutonic Order and its associated bishops and abbots brought in German or Dutch colonists, the farming practices reflected those of the immigrants’ homelands; however, the three-field system required farmers to work together, while the original inhabitants preferred to retain individual farms worked on the two-field system. The three-field system produced more food, but the Native Prussians valued their freedom more.

This is a very detailed study, with abundant information on what people ate, how they lived, and how they were buried.

By Aleksander Pluskowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade explores the archaeology and material culture of the crusade against the Prussian tribes in the 13th century, and the subsequent society created by the Teutonic Order which lasted into the 16th century. It provides the first synthesis of the material culture of a unique crusading society created in the south-eastern Baltic region over the course of the 13th century. It encompasses the full range of archaeological data, from standing buildings through to artefacts and ecofacts, integrated with written and artistic sources. The work is sub-divided into broadly chronological themes, beginning with a historical outline,…


Book cover of From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle: Social and Cultural Change in Medieval Spain

Aleksander Pluskowski Author Of The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation

From the list on the cultural impact of the crusades.

Who am I?

I was born in London, but growing up in a Polish family ensured that I was well aware of the history of the Teutonic Order. As a post-doctoral researcher in Cambridge, I was fortunate enough to gain access to archaeological material from the magnificent castle at Malbork in north Poland, the Order’s medieval headquarters. That moment really spurred my interest in the Northern Crusades, after which I spent a decade working across the eastern Baltic. I’ve also had the opportunity to excavate medieval frontier sites at both ends of the Mediterranean. As an archaeologist, I always found the lived experiences of these societies far more interesting than the traditional military histories written about them.

Aleksander's book list on the cultural impact of the crusades

Discover why each book is one of Aleksander's favorite books.

Why did Aleksander love this book?

When visiting the spectacular medieval monuments of Spain and Portugal that emblematize centuries of Islamic and Christian rule, it is impossible to ignore their surrounding landscapes, often dramatic, always thought-provoking. They remain powerful inspirations for my own work, and Thomas Glick’s wide-ranging book, which spans the entirety of the Iberian Middle Ages, stands out as a landmark of Anglophone scholarship on medieval Spain which uses the landscape as a fundamental lens on cultural change. He elegantly blends archaeological and geographic evidence with written sources to place the transformation of the landscapes of al-Andalus at the heart of understanding the implications of Christian ‘feudal’ rule. Whilst our knowledge of both Islamic and Christian cultural landscapes has advanced since this book was published, it remains a bold and thoughtful overview.

By Thomas F. Glick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This analysis of early Spanish history draws on a wide range of sources, archaeological as well as written. Thomas F. Glick explores the history of Spain from the Roman province, through the Visigothic and Arab Conquests, to the Christian Reconquest and reorganization of society in the 13th century. The author argues that three key transitions took place in culture and landscape: the development of castles which marked the move from the Spanish "dark" to "middle" age, the transition to feudalism, and finally the transition from Islamic to Christian Spain as a result of the Reconquest. He shows how these transitions…


The World of the Crusades

By Christopher Tyerman,

Book cover of The World of the Crusades

Alfred Andrea Author Of Seven Myths of the Crusades

From the list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians.

Who am I?

I was fated to become a crusade historian. Research for my doctoral dissertation on medieval relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople inevitably led me to the Fourth Crusade. I was hooked, and for the past fifty-plus years the crusades have been a passion—I hope a healthy one.  Although I have published two books on the Fourth Crusade, my crusading interests have now gone global, and I am currently studying sixteenth-century crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, and the Americas. Perhaps someday I shall turn to more modern crusades. Sad to say, the crusades are still with us.

Alfred's book list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians

Discover why each book is one of Alfred's favorite books.

Why did Alfred love this book?

This lavishly illustrated book focuses on the crusades’ material objects: sculptures, paintings, manuscripts, architecture, coinage, and even jewelry. As historical evidence, artifacts are as important as documents, and these carefully chosen items provide privileged insights into the largely-shared crusader worldview and sense of mission. They further illuminate the complex relationships that developed between crusaders and the many foreign cultures with which they came into contact.  

By Christopher Tyerman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The World of the Crusades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lively reimagining of how the distant medieval world of war functioned, drawing on the objects used and made by crusaders

Throughout the Middle Ages crusading was justified by religious ideology, but the resulting military campaigns were fueled by concrete objectives: land, resources, power, reputation. Crusaders amassed possessions of all sorts, from castles to reliquaries. Campaigns required material funds and equipment, while conquests produced bureaucracies, taxation, economic exploitation, and commercial regulation. Wealth sustained the Crusades while material objects, from weaponry and military technology to carpentry and shipping, conditioned them.

This lavishly illustrated volume considers the material trappings of crusading wars…


Book cover of The Byzantine World War

T.C. Kuhn Author Of The Byzantine Cipher

From the list on the longest empire in western history.

Who am I?

After my third visit to this part of the world, I decided to revisit the locales that had become engrained in my memories in the company of a character I had tentatively invented some years back who was in search of a time and place to emerge it seemed. As a retired archaeologist and amateur historian of early time periods I became fascinated with Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, which lasted for a thousand years and has received so little attention in average history books and even college and public school teaching. Constantinople sat at the center of a unique and important world and deserves far more attention than we have often given it.

T.C.'s book list on the longest empire in western history

Discover why each book is one of T.C.'s favorite books.

Why did T.C. love this book?

Will we ever be free of the Crusades and how it shaped our modern world? Not according to the author, who brings this idea to the forefront with a new perspective on the role that the Byzantine Empire and the fall of Constantinople in the 11th Century at the hands of western Christian crusaders wrought at the time. Personally, since this story unfolds less than a century after when my own focus on Byzantine history has been the past two years, I was fascinated by Holmes’ thoughtful interpretation of how the fading empire sitting at the center of three diverse cultural centers and their burgeoning religions, all dedicated to overt expansionism, has so often been neglected or overlooked entirely by later historians, even into the present. The Crusades were truly a “World War” at the time, and the author’s ability to connect so many diverse and related pieces of…

By Nick Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Byzantine World War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Crusades shook the world. But why did they happen?
Their origins are revealed in a new light. As part of a medieval world war that stretched from Asia to Europe. At its centre was an ancient empire - Byzantium.
Told for the first time as a single, linked narrative are three great events that changed history: the fall of Byzantium in the eleventh century, the epic campaign of the First Crusade and the origins of modern Turkey.
Nick Holmes not only presents the First Crusade in a wider global context but he also puts forwards new interpretations of the…


Quartered in Hell

By Dennis Gordon, Hayes Otoupalik,

Book cover of Quartered in Hell: The Story of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force 1918-1919

Bruce Canfield Author Of U. S. Infantry Weapons of the First World War

From the list on America's crusade in the Great War.

Who am I?

I have written 13 books and over 200 national magazine articles on U.S. Military weapons and am Field Editor for the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. The story of the World War II weapons and campaigns have been widely covered but the First World War is sometimes all but forgotten. Those who are not familiar with America’s rather brief, but important, role in the conflict often do not realize how the First World War helped make the United States one of the world’s “superpowers.”

Bruce's book list on America's crusade in the Great War

Discover why each book is one of Bruce's favorite books.

Why did Bruce love this book?

A well-researched and fascinating story of the little-known American intervention in the North Russia/Siberia campaigns between the Red Bolshevik forces and the “White Russian” forces with small American and British units essentially caught in the middle.

By Dennis Gordon, Hayes Otoupalik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quartered in Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Americans fighting in North Russia and Siberia from 1918 to 1920. Illustrated cover with red and white lettering on spine. 11 x 8.5. 320 pp


The Source

By James A. Michener,

Book cover of The Source

Sam Foster Author Of Beardstown

From the list on creating civilization.

Who am I?

Beardstown is my ancestral home. I grew up, sitting on my grandfather’s knee and listening to stories of great floods, huge winter storms, steamboat trade up and down the river, and even ancient tales of the Iroquois annihilating the Mascouten and the long-forgotten Indian mounds. It has been such a joy to be able to compile all those ancient memories into one pretty good story.

Sam's book list on creating civilization

Discover why each book is one of Sam's favorite books.

Why did Sam love this book?

Michener’s fifty-year-old novel focuses on a natural spring that becomes a tell – one civilization stacked on top of another from the beginning of time. It is the spring that makes life. If it is life that creates civilization and then destroys it and then comes back to the water to create yet another. The eternal and lasting thing is the water. Michener makes a beautiful story of the civilizations that come and go and stack on top of one another. 

The town is a new civilization created, the founder believes, from wilderness. But it is not so. The spot he choose was previously occupied by indigenous natives and they took it from the natives there before them. How could I not love Michener’s story? It is the same as mine just 5,000 years earlier.

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Source as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his signature style of grand storytelling, James A. Michener transports us back thousands of years to the Holy Land. Through the discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in an ancient city and traces the profound history of the Jewish people—from the persecution of the early Hebrews, the rise of Christianity, and the Crusades to the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. An epic tale of love, strength, and faith, The Source is a richly written saga that encompasses the history of Western civilization and the great…


Book cover of Northern Crusades, the Baltic and the Catholic Frontier, 1100-1525

William L. Urban Author Of Teutonic Knights: A Military History

From the list on medieval Baltic history.

Who am I?

I became enthusiastic about the history of the Baltics when my dissertation advisor persuaded me to use my language training in German and Russian to test the American Frontier Theory in the Baltic region. None of the various theories were applicable, but I earned a Ph.D. anyway. Later I taught in Italy, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. I've written a number of books and won a Fulbright Hays grant, the Dr. Arthur Puksow Foundation prize, the Vitols Prize, and others. I retired in 2017 after fifty-one years of university and college teaching, but I would still be teaching if my hearing had not deteriorated to the point that I could not make out what shy students were saying. 

William's book list on medieval Baltic history

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

This wide-ranging, erudite, and witty account remains the most enjoyable survey of the era. His explanations of complex ideas and events cut through many of the difficulties involved in understanding a very different time and different places than our own. I especiallly liked the way he could  tie the crusades in the Baltic to what was happening elsewhere in Europe and in the Holy Land, and to show how contemporaries wrestled with difficult, even contradictory, ideas.

The Crusades

By Carole Hillenbrand,

Book cover of The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives

Alfred Andrea Author Of Seven Myths of the Crusades

From the list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians.

Who am I?

I was fated to become a crusade historian. Research for my doctoral dissertation on medieval relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople inevitably led me to the Fourth Crusade. I was hooked, and for the past fifty-plus years the crusades have been a passion—I hope a healthy one.  Although I have published two books on the Fourth Crusade, my crusading interests have now gone global, and I am currently studying sixteenth-century crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, and the Americas. Perhaps someday I shall turn to more modern crusades. Sad to say, the crusades are still with us.

Alfred's book list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians

Discover why each book is one of Alfred's favorite books.

Why did Alfred love this book?

Hillenbrand does for counter-crusading Islam what Tyerman does for crusading Latin Christianity. This book is chock full of images of objects illustrating the rich variety of cultures embraced by medieval Islam. But beyond that, it is the single best book in English on Islam in the Age of the Crusades. Topics covered in detail, but always in a reader-friendly style, range from Muslim ethnic and religious stereotypes of Westerners to the evolution of jihad as a principle and a reality before and during the crusading era. No serious student of the crusades should overlook this important contribution to crusade studies.   

By Carole Hillenbrand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crusades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First Published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


Book cover of Frankish Rural Settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Envoy of Jerusalem

From the list on the Crusades and Crusader States.

Who am I?

I'm a retired diplomat and award-winning novelist with a PhD in history. I became fascinated by the crusades and the crusader states because few periods of history are so widely misunderstood or so profoundly misrepresented. While scholars have for decades meticulously uncovered the evidence of religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and sophisticated understanding of the Islamic opponent, the general public remains trapped in the cliches of “barbarism,” “bigotry” “apartheid” and “proto-colonialism”. The discrepancy between the evidence and the popular image motivated me to write books that show the real face of the crusader states as revealed by the scholarship of the last thirty years. In addition, I was commissioned by Pen & Sword to write a non-fiction introduction to the crusader states that will be released later this year.

Helena's book list on the Crusades and Crusader States

Discover why each book is one of Helena's favorite books.

Why did Helena love this book?

This book is an absolute “must” for anyone seriously interested in understanding how the crusader states fit into and impacted the Middle East in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Hidden behind this dry title, is the most significant book about the crusader states of the last fifty years. This book by an Israeli archaeologist based on data mining and archaeological surveys completely discredited the theories on the social structures and demographics of the crusader states which had dominated crusade historiography since the Second World War. It started an avalanche of new research that has led to a generation of revisionist historians, whose works collectively have revolutionized our understanding of the Middle East in the era of the crusades.

By Ronnie Ellenblum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frankish Rural Settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a study of the spatial distribution of Frankish settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades, and of the spatial and social interrelation between the Franks and the indigenous population. It is based on an unprecedented field study of more than two hundred Frankish rural sites and on a close re-examination of the historical sources. The division of the country between Christian and Muslim populations is explained by the far-reaching social process of nomadisation and sedentarisation which began with the Muslim conquest in the seventh century and which reached its zenith before…


Book cover of The Concise History of the Crusades

Wayne H. Bowen Author Of Undoing Saddam: From Occupation to Sovereignty in Northern Iraq

From the list on the history of the Middle East.

Who am I?

My primary field in history is Spain, over which I have published six books. However, I became interested in the Middle East when the US Army deployed me to Iraq in 2004. Although I had taught the history of the region, experiencing war and reconstruction for myself, and spending time in Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar made the Middle East come alive to me. I wrote Undoing Saddam, my war diary, during my Iraq tour. I followed up that work with a textbook on Arabia, articles on the Ottoman Empire, and plans for future projects on the region, both on its own and in relation to early modern and modern Spain.  

Wayne's book list on the history of the Middle East

Discover why each book is one of Wayne's favorite books.

Why did Wayne love this book?

As a historian, I pick books outside my area to read for pleasure, so can enjoy them without feeling like I need to take notes for my next academic project. I picked up Madden’s book in an airport bookstore before a long coast-to-coast flight. By the time we landed, I had finished this compelling story. Put aside what you think you know about the Crusades from Hollywood, novels, and school; this is the real story, of religious devotion, climactic battles, kings in conflict, and changing the world. The clash of Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages made Europe and the Middle East, in ways that Madden helps us understand.

By Thomas F. Madden,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Concise History of the Crusades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is the relationship between the medieval crusades and the problems of the modern Middle East? Were the crusades the Christian equivalent of Muslim jihad? In this sweeping yet crisp history, Thomas F. Madden offers a brilliant and compelling narrative of the crusades and their contemporary relevance. Placing all of the major crusades within their medieval social, economic, religious, and intellectual environments, Madden explores the uniquely medieval world that led untold thousands to leave their homes, families, and friends to march in Christ's name to distant lands. From Palestine and Europe's farthest reaches, each crusade is recounted in a clear,…


Montaillou

By Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Barbara Bray (translator),

Book cover of Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French Village 1294-1324

Alexander F. Robertson Author Of Mieres Reborn: The Reinvention of a Catalan Community

From the list on village lives as keys to history.

Who am I?

Working as a social anthropologist in Uganda, Ghana, Malaysia, and Catalonia, I became fascinated by villages as microcosms of broader social change, places where history can be observed in the making through the lives and histories of families and of their members. Villages are anything but ‘natural’ communities or social backwaters. They survive (or perish) because people, beliefs, and goods are continually moving in and out. Village lives are certainly shaped by state and society, but the impact goes both ways. Each of my selected books tells a gripping and distinctive story of villagers grappling with social and cultural tension, the forces of change, and the challenges of survival.

Alexander's book list on village lives as keys to history

Discover why each book is one of Alexander's favorite books.

Why did Alexander love this book?

An instant best-seller when it first appeared in 1978, Montaillou uses Inquisition records of the cross-examinations of Cathar heretics and their Catholic neighbours and kin to recover the religious, social, emotional and sexual lives of medieval Pyrenean villagers.

Shepherds, mayors, matriarchs and servants, priests and laity, come vividly to life as they recount their work and pleasures, friendships and enmities, doubts and beliefs. 

Montaillou is the most influential example of what was then a speciality of the French Annales school of history, namely, studies of everyday life (la vie quotidienne) in a particular historical milieu.

Since then micro-histories, detailed accounts of social microcosms and what they tell us about the wider worlds in which they were embedded, and the historical shifts or transformations to which they bear witness, have become the bread and butter not only of local but of global historians.   

By Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Barbara Bray (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Montaillou as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

APPEARS UNREAD. Hardcover with slipcase. Slipcase shows minimal shelving wear, binding is very slightly pulling away from the spine, otherwise an UNBLEMISHED copy.


Book cover of The Crusader States and their Neighbours: A Military History, 1099-1187

John D. Hosler Author Of The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade

From the list on crusading warfare.

Who am I?

I’m just a guy who once obsessed over Forgotten Realms novels as a kid and, now, teaches history to military officers at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In between, I got married, earned a PhD at the University of Delaware, and spent 12 years teaching in Baltimore. I’m very interested in cross-cultural warfare—as the crusades are a window into not only western and eastern warfare but also facets of cultural, literary, political, religious, and social history, studying them is endlessly fascinating and infinitely rewarding. My next book, Jerusalem Falls: Seven Centuries of War and Peace, continues my interest in the subject.

John's book list on crusading warfare

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

Morton is quickly making a name for himself in military history circles, and this book won the 2022 Verbruggen Prize for best medieval military history book (awarded by De Re Militari: the Society for Medieval Military History). On the heels of his successful 2018 book on the Battle of the Field of Blood in 1119, here Morton examines the size, structure, and deployment of military forces in the four Crusader States. Along the way, he sketches a military narrative of Levantine events from the end of the First Crusade through Saladin’s triumph at the Battle of Hattin. Concluding with two thought-provoking chapters on the interpretation of battles and cross-cultural exchanges between Christian and Muslim combatants, this book updates the subfield of crusading warfare in interesting ways.

By Nicholas Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crusader States and their Neighbours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Crusader States and their Neighbours explores the military history of the Medieval Near East, piecing together the fault lines of conflict which entangled this much-contested region.

This was an area where ethnic, religious, dynastic, and commercial interests collided and the causes of war could be numerous. Conflicts persisted for decades and were fought out between many groups including Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, and the Crusaders themselves.

Nicholas Morton recreates this world, exploring how each faction sought to advance its own interests by any means possible, adapting its warcraft to better respond to the threats posed by their rivals.

Strategies…


Make the Kaiser Dance

By Henry Berry,

Book cover of Make the Kaiser Dance: Living Memories of a Forgotten War: The American Experience in World War I

Bruce Canfield Author Of U. S. Infantry Weapons of the First World War

From the list on America's crusade in the Great War.

Who am I?

I have written 13 books and over 200 national magazine articles on U.S. Military weapons and am Field Editor for the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. The story of the World War II weapons and campaigns have been widely covered but the First World War is sometimes all but forgotten. Those who are not familiar with America’s rather brief, but important, role in the conflict often do not realize how the First World War helped make the United States one of the world’s “superpowers.”

Bruce's book list on America's crusade in the Great War

Discover why each book is one of Bruce's favorite books.

Why did Bruce love this book?

Numerous fascinating first-hand accounts of American “Doughboys” who saw front-line service in World War I. Many of the stories are poignant and personal.

Hattin

By John France,

Book cover of Hattin: Great Battles Series

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Envoy of Jerusalem

From the list on the Crusades and Crusader States.

Who am I?

I'm a retired diplomat and award-winning novelist with a PhD in history. I became fascinated by the crusades and the crusader states because few periods of history are so widely misunderstood or so profoundly misrepresented. While scholars have for decades meticulously uncovered the evidence of religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and sophisticated understanding of the Islamic opponent, the general public remains trapped in the cliches of “barbarism,” “bigotry” “apartheid” and “proto-colonialism”. The discrepancy between the evidence and the popular image motivated me to write books that show the real face of the crusader states as revealed by the scholarship of the last thirty years. In addition, I was commissioned by Pen & Sword to write a non-fiction introduction to the crusader states that will be released later this year.

Helena's book list on the Crusades and Crusader States

Discover why each book is one of Helena's favorite books.

Why did Helena love this book?

This is the perfect book for someone striving to understand the relevance of the crusades based on their place in the history of both the West and the Middle East. It is not a comprehensive history as is Madden’s work, but a compliment to Madden in that it shows how history has been harnessed to modern politics — usually incorrectly.

Despite its misleading title referring to Saladin’s defeat of the Christian army in July 1187, this book looks not so much at the events as the meaning of the crusades. In less than 170 pages, France explores the concepts of jihad and crusading, and describes the fateful battle of Hattin. He then goes on to analyze the immediate military and political consequences of the battle, and ends by examining how the myths surrounding this iconic battle have impacted national identity and foreign relations to the present day.

By John France,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hattin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On 4 July 1187 the legendary Muslim leader Saladin destroyed the Crusader army of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem with a terrible slaughter at the battle of Hattin - and went on to restore the Holy City of Jerusalem to Islamic rule.

The carnage at Hattin was the culmination of almost a century of religious wars between Christian and Muslim in the Holy Land. It had enormous consequences for the whole medieval world because it produced an intensification of holy war between Islam and Europe for over another century - and in retrospect marked the beginning of the end for…


Book cover of The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance

Sara Lipton Author Of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography

From the list on medieval religious history.

Who am I?

I was raised in a Jewish but completely secular family, with no religious traditions or affiliations. Perhaps because religion was so exotic, I have always found it fascinating. In college, I gravitated toward topics in medieval religion, which crystallized the strangeness of an era both earthy and intensely devout. I wanted to understand why an Anglo-Saxon monk sitting in a cold monastery in northern England cared so much about biblical history. Or how Saint Bernard could so relentlessly hound a fellow monk over a scholarly treatise, yet also work energetically to protect Jews from violence. I can't say I'll ever fully comprehend the force of religion, but I love trying.

Sara's book list on medieval religious history

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Why did Sara love this book?

There has been an explosion of interest in the Crusades since 9/11, with many medieval historians working hard to push back against over-simplified and often inaccurate depictions of Christian holy war and Christian-Muslim relations. This impressively researched book adds a fascinating new dimension to the story of the Crusades, examining relations between newly arrived European Catholics and the many and varied indigenous Levantine Christian communities in the decades following the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. MacEvitt rejects the dominant narrative, which held that the Frankish conquerors, imbued with the rigid prejudices of an intolerant European Christendom, had little interaction with or understanding of the local populations. Instead, he paints a portrait of a surprisingly practical and flexible Crusader regime, characterized by extensive Frankish-local social, religious, and legal interactions. MacEvitt's nuanced model, which he dubs "rough tolerance," avoids both idealization and demonization, and offers a fruitful way to approach relations…

By Christopher MacEvitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crusades and the Christian World of the East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the wake of Jerusalem's fall in 1099, the crusading armies of western Christians known as the Franks found themselves governing not only Muslims and Jews but also local Christians, whose culture and traditions were a world apart from their own. The crusader-occupied swaths of Syria and Palestine were home to many separate Christian communities: Greek and Syrian Orthodox, Armenians, and other sects with sharp doctrinal differences. How did these disparate groups live together under Frankish rule?
In The Crusades and the Christian World of the East, Christopher MacEvitt marshals an impressive array of literary, legal, artistic, and archeological evidence…


The Crusades

By Helen Nicholson,

Book cover of The Crusades

Alfred Andrea Author Of Seven Myths of the Crusades

From the list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians.

Who am I?

I was fated to become a crusade historian. Research for my doctoral dissertation on medieval relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople inevitably led me to the Fourth Crusade. I was hooked, and for the past fifty-plus years the crusades have been a passion—I hope a healthy one.  Although I have published two books on the Fourth Crusade, my crusading interests have now gone global, and I am currently studying sixteenth-century crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, and the Americas. Perhaps someday I shall turn to more modern crusades. Sad to say, the crusades are still with us.

Alfred's book list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians

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Why did Alfred love this book?

There are numerous excellent books of every length (one runs more than 900 pages) that survey the crusades across the centuries and in their multiple theaters of operation. And several books are more recent, but this little book of fewer than two hundred pages is a gem. Written in clear prose and incorporating biographies of important individuals, key documents, and a glossary, it is tailor-made for students and general readers, and its price is modest. 

By Helen Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crusades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In addition to a clear, engaging survey of the Christian crusades to the Holy Lands, this book offers an overview of the many contemporary campaigns against non-Christians throughout Europe and the Middle East. Seventeen biographical sketches of key figures and a dozen primary texts in translation are included, as are six maps and an annotated bibliography and chronology.


A Song for Arbonne

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Book cover of A Song for Arbonne

Astrid V. J. Author Of Aspiring

From the list on nostalgic books that hit the spot.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning and USA Today bestselling South African author, social anthropologist, and transformational life coach. Human transformation and the question of human social nature are key themes in all of my writing, which explores the experiences of people on the margins or with a background of overlapping cultures. I am a book dragon who loves reading adventures in almost every genre and that broad scope of my reading explorations has wormed its way into my writing style which, though broadly defined as fantasy, encompasses elements from other styles in a rich and ‘aromatic’ blend.

Astrid's book list on nostalgic books that hit the spot

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Why did Astrid love this book?

I love all of Kay’s works, and yet this one maintains a very special place in my heart because it’s set in a fantasy realm steeped in Medieval vibes. Following in the tradition of the first fantasy books, and also the older tradition of the first romances, this book overflows with songs and poetry that bring the culture of this world to life in a way unlike any other. The nostalgia in this book hit me very hard the first time I read it and it definitely took me back to Arthurian legends and Medieval romances.

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Song for Arbonne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the critically-acclaimed author of The Fionavar Tapestry comes an epic fantasy novel of love, both courtly and forbidden, and two kingdoms endlessly opposed...

Blaise of Gorhaut is a warrior. He fought for his king and country, until the king died with an arrow in his eye at the battle of Iersen Bridge, and a dishonorable treaty ceded a good part of his country to foreign hands. He has broken relations with his father, adviser to the king of Gorhaut, and abandoned the use of his family name.
 
Now, Blaise is a mercenary. He never expected to work for the…


Travelers Along the Way

By Aminah Mae Safi,

Book cover of Travelers Along the Way

Jodi Meadows Author Of Nightrender

From the list on to transport you into another world.

Who am I?

I love books that take you to another world, stories that show you bits of our reality while exploring another. It’s thrilling to step into a world where anything can happen, where dragons exist, where our laws of nature may not apply. But also, I love seeing the familiar in fantastical places: love, friendship, and hope. Though the characters in books may inhabit worlds made mostly out of paper, ink, and imagination, their stories are universal.

Jodi's book list on to transport you into another world

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Why did Jodi love this book?

While this novel is not set in another world, it does show a side of our world and history too often ignored. Travelers Along the Way is a heartfelt and humorous take on the Robin Hood tale, brimming with sisterhood, cunning disguises, and dangerous heists. It transports through clever details and unforgettable characters. 

By Aminah Mae Safi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travelers Along the Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2022 Middle East Book Award in Youth Literature

A ragtag band of misfits gets swept up in Holy Land politics in Travelers Along the Way by Aminah Mae Safi, a thrilling YA remix of the classic legend of Robin Hood.

Jerusalem, 1192. The Third Crusade rages on. Rahma al-Hud loyally followed her elder sister Zeena into the war over the Holy Land, but now that the Faranji invaders have gotten reinforcements from Richard the Lionheart, all she wants to do is get herself and her sister home alive.

But Zeena, a soldier of honor at heart, refuses…