Gabe MuchnickHistory, Period 511/1/01 Book Critique Warriors of God by James Reston Jr. is a non-fictional view of the third crusade. This particular crusade spanned from 1187-1192, containing many gruesome battles and a lot of intense moments between Islam and Christianity. Reston supplies the reader with a little background to the third Crusade when he talks about the first Crusades happening since 1095. Reston gives a fairly impartial view of this holy war. He discusses the battles, politics, and emotions of the Crusade as an outside party and if he takes any side at all it is with the Muslims.
He often speaks badly of King Richard and he speaks well of Saladin, the sultan. He portrays Richard as a greedy, anti-Semite, who is intolerable of other religions, while he shows Saladin as tolerant to the Jews, reasonable, and an overall good leader. Reston wrote this book mostly to inform readers about the third Crusade but also to add some of his own insights. His thesis was a little unclear but he stated that the Crusades were the most violent event in history all the way up to Hitler’s rein. Reston did a good job in proving this when he told of battles and then analyzed them.
He told of a time when King Richard had twenty thousand Muslims executed and when Saladin had Reginald of Chatillon beheaded along with many other Christian prisoners. Reston is a well established writer, his most famous work being Galileo. Reston made a very extensive bibliography with many primary and secondary sources. He had about forty-five primary sources and about ninety secondary sources so I would say that he is now an authority on the third Crusade and probably all of them for that matter.
... great information, obviously, about the Third Crusade, and good biographical information on Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart. Riley-Smith, Jonathan. ... countless nobles who valiantly gave their lives on unknown battle fields in previously unknown worlds. The kingdoms of Europe ... provisions which were always in desperate need by the battle-weary soldiers. With time many monastic clans that were ...
Saladin says straight out in this historical book that Richard the Lionheart, King of England is a homosexual. This has been debated and so one really knows for sure one way or another so to call him an unquestionable homosexual is a little unusual. Reston says that Richard was gay with his childhood friend who in the future would rule France, Phillip Augustus. This relationship would later come into play in the book when they have to work side by side to overthrow the Islamic Empire. The way that Reston told the story in Warriors of God was very well done. He would tell a chapter from Richard’s point of view and then one from Saladin’s.
Sometimes the story would be from King Richard’s point of view for two or three chapters but it would even out later and Reston stayed very consistent with this. He organized the book in chronological order, which seems appropriate for the circumstances. I liked the way that Reston wrote, first he would lay down the facts and then he would offer up his opinion on the subject. This was valuable because Reston seems very well read on the subject and it is good to have an opinion of a person who knows what he’s talking about. This wasn’t your normal history book, it was actually interesting.
He not only kept my attention but I wanted to read more to see how battles or pilgrimages would end. His language wasn’t too technical either. Reston also added some visuals to put images in the reader’s mind. I’m sure that not everyone that reads this book knows beforehand what ancient Tyre, Acre, Jerusalem, Saladin, and Richard looked like. There were also maps that noted the Crusader’s pilgrimage to the holy land with important cities, rivers, ports, battles and forts. Reston is fairly cynical about the cause of the Crusades.
... on the way to proving himself a villain.When King Edward dies, Richard, Duke of Gloucester decided that he needed a scapegoat ... to reciprocate their goals. In the play Richard the third Richard was determined to become the King of England but also, more importantly ... detract from the quality of the text and I feel Richard III is viewed in the highest light in upper literary circles. ...
He implies that Phillip and Richards are Crusaders only interested in riches and power, not very interested in the religious side of it, like Saladin. He views Islam more optimistically however. To him, they are the real Crusaders fighting off the Pagans that are trying to take what is rightfully theirs. Reston compares Richard to Alexander the Great due to the two attitudes about power being similar. Saladin also fears that like Alexander the Great, King Richard wants nothing more than all of the land and the power that comes along with it. Saladin is very concerned that Richard will be making a seemingly indestructible empire as he travels to the Holy Land taking whatever riches, forts and Muslim lives he can.
Warriors of God is not just a timely recap of other works about the third Crusade. Yes there is no other factual information that can be provided to the subject, but Reston sheds a new light on information overlooked by past scholars. Most historians wouldn’t go as far as sating that King Richard was a blatant homosexual, but Reston goes out on a limb and voices his opinion. This better depicts Richard’s relationship with Phillip of France, whom Reston believes were lovers. These two men were lovers until the Crusades came along, then they fought over petty differences and each tried to win over the peoples view and become more powerful than the other.
This came into play when they had to work together to defeat the Muslims at Acre. Each of them tried to be the hero, but neither of them did anything but harm when performing these selfish acts. Reston’s point of view is a little un cosher for some one that isn’t a Muslim. Reston takes Islam’s side on numerous occasions and identifies with Saladin rather than Richard who is usually depicted a strong, romantic warrior.
Reston definitely brought new ideas to the table with this book.