book report: God's Battalions by Rodney Stark (2009)
The Crusades are complicated. Rodney Stark tries to simplify things too much. His book, God's Battalions, The Case for the Crusades, is polemical and, at times, strident. He chops with a dull ax, which is not to say that the book is worthless, it lacks nuance. He makes overreaching assertionsCover via Amazon that aren't always supported by the very facts he presents. If Saladin was such a slime ball, then why do so many historians find noble things to say him that he can't? Saladin, like any human being, is a complicated entity. If you want a black and white story on the Crusades that supports your simplistic beliefs about them, this is the book for you. If you, like me, are trying to understand the history of the Crusades, this is a first, shallow step into the deep pool of this history. But don't stop at this step, keep reading the works of other historians.