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The Crusades Through Arab Ey es, by Amin Maalouf, presents Western readers and students of history with a view of the Crusades th at is seldom considered in the West. Eurocentrism is a powerful influence, one that has largely shap ed the writing of history that has been accepted (at least tacitly) by much of the world's community of scholars. In this text, however, we are presented with an alternative view of the "facts" of the Crusades, in which then-contemporary Arab chronicles give us an unusual and extremely valuable pers pective on the confrontation of Christian western Europe and the Islamic Middle East. Maalouf's narr ative, introduction, and the specific entries themselves demonstrate that there was a sense of genui ne confusion among the Arabs, who did not at first comprehend why the strange, militaristic, foreign ers were invading their land. The documents contained in the book suggest that the Arabs found the European invaders to be physically strong and enormous, but hideous and barbaric in their practices. Many, many things about the Crusaders seem to have revolted the Arabs. For example, in 1099, in t he area of Ma'arra, Crusaders consumed the corpses of both Saracens and Turks and of dogs - with the Arabs appalled by such practices. They were equally upset with the Crusader's penchant for trials b y ordeal and the cruel and irrational medical practices of the Europeans, whose knowledge of medicin e, sanitation, and even personal hygiene were significantly behind those of the Islamic world. The chroniclers suggested that the Europeans were, in some critical ways such as personal hygiene and me dical care, significantly improved by their prolonged and intimate contact with Islam and its body o f knowledge. What also emerges from the text is the realization that then - as now - the "Arabs" wer e not a united people; they were rather a loose collection of often very different groups, including the Seljuk Turks and "local" Arab peoples. In addition, the goal of retaining (or gaining) control over the area immediately surrounding Jerusalem was shared by any number of groups - Arab and Crusad er alike, for whom the Holy City contained sacred spots of enormous religious and cultural importanc e to both groups. Jerusalem was as much a place of worship and historical importance to the Arabs an d members of the Islamic faith as it was to Christians (and, of course, Jews). Richard the Lionheart ed, the Norman king of England, was also fixated on achieving control over Jerusalem and on creating a Christian state in the area now known as Jordan. Richard was doomed to failure, but his ambitions live on in the hearts and minds of Jews, Arabs, and Christians - all of whom "claim" Jerusalem as t heir own and each of whom has a vested historical interest in the area. The text makes it clear that from the Christian, Eurocentric perspective, the Crusades are a romantic image of brave Christiankn ights (the flower of European chivalry) fighting the Muslims for control of the Holy Land and for th e glory of God. For the Arabs, the Crusades represented something very different - some two centurie s of repeated invasions and turmoil instigated by the West. Given that Islam was, for the most part, a relatively tolerant religion which did not force conversion on the peoples it conquered, the Arab ist perspective should certainly be given greater attention than it has traditionally received in hi stories written by and for the West. Maalouf, himself a Lebanese who is certainly intimately and per sonally aware of the effects of religious strife, may have had a dual purpose in writing this book. It is clearly an effort of scholarship determined to "set the record straight" and to present a comp rehensive Arab "response" to the traditional histories of the Crusades. AT the same time, there is a n overarching moral to the story: wars fought on religious grounds are often as much about greed or economic motives and territorial aspirations than about religion per se. This book is definitively focused on events that took place seven to eight hundred years ago, but it resonates with respect to many of the issues that continue to troubled the Middle East and to shape and inform relationships between Westerners and Arabs today. The seeds of mistrust and even dislike - as well as misunderstan ding - that continue to trouble the world today were quite literally sown in the era encompassed by the Crusades. This is a point that Maalouf makes eloquently in his own epilogue, a section of the bo ok that ties together the various themes contained in the chronicles that he incorporated and makes the book as relevant to the present as it is to the distant past. What the West remembers as a glori ous and epic effort to recapture the Holy Land, the Arab, Islamic world remembers as a brutal, often savage, and largely unprovoked attack. The author demonstrates that the Muslim world at the time wa s not "one big, happy family," but a world in which one faction was at odds with another. The Seljuk Turks had conquered many Muslim lands and were quarrelling with Arabs as well as among themselves o ver dynastic matters. Not only national or cultural rivalries divided the Muslim's dissent over rel igious heterodoxy were also endemic then (again, as they are now with animosities between Shi'ia and Sunni Moslems). What emerges from this narrative is a recognition that for a brief period of time, these dissenting and hostile factions within the Muslim world overcame (or at least temporarily set aside) their animosities and rivalries to create a unified and ultimately successful front against t he Christian, Western attackers. It is also clear that the Crusades were, on both sides of the battl efield, very much a holy war. There is a wealth of valuable information in this text which the stud ent of the history of the Middle Ages would be well advised to pursue. The strongest impression wit h which the reader is left is of the Muslim scorn for an inferior and misguided people. The writers whose work is assembled demonstrate that they had little interest in or curiosity regarding the Fra nkish world; they knew they had little of importance to learn from it, and were content with their c aricature of Christian beliefs which is (as the author demonstrated) as distorted as the perception of Islamic beliefs which much of the West continues to hold true. The book is important in that it offers a mirror image of events that even the most cursory student of history is generally familiar with. Teachers and students alike should take notice of this book, which has taken some 30 years to move into an inexpensive paperback format after being printed in English. book report review crusad es through arab eyes amin maalouf crusades through arab eyes amin maalouf presents western readers s tudents history with view crusades that seldom considered west eurocentrism powerful influence that largely shaped writing history that been accepted least tacitly much world community scholars this t
ext however presented with alternative view facts which then contemporary arab chronicles give unusu al extremely valuable perspective confrontation christian western europe islamic middle east maalouf narrative introduction specific entries themselves demonstrate there sense genuine confusion among arabs first comprehend strange militaristic foreigners were invading their land documents contained book suggest arabs found european invaders physically strong enormous hideous barbaric their practic es many many things about crusaders seem have revolted arabs example area arra crusaders consumed co rpses both saracens turks dogs with appalled such practices they were equally upset crusader penchan t trials ordeal cruel irrational medical practices europeans whose knowledge medicine sanitation eve n personal hygiene were significantly behind those islamic world chroniclers suggested europeans som e critical ways such personal hygiene medical care significantly improved their prolonged intimate c ontact islam body knowledge what also emerges from text realization then united people they rather l oose collection often very different groups including seljuk turks local peoples addition goal retai ning gaining control over area immediately surrounding jerusalem shared number groups crusader alike whom holy city contained sacred spots enormous religious cultural importance both groups jerusalem much place worship historical importance members islamic faith christians course jews richard lionhe arted norman king england also fixated achieving control over jerusalem creating christian state are a known jordan richard doomed failure ambitions live hearts minds jews christians whom claim each wh om vested historical interest text makes clear from christian eurocentric perspective romantic image brave christianknights flower european chivalry fighting muslims control holy land glory represente d something very different some centuries repeated invasions turmoil instigated west given islam mos t part relatively tolerant religion which force conversion peoples conquered arabist perspective sho uld certainly given greater attention than traditionally received histories written west himself leb anese certainly intimately personally aware effects religious strife have dual purpose writing this book clearly effort scholarship determined record straight present comprehensive response traditiona l histories same time there overarching moral story wars fought religious grounds often much about g reed economic motives territorial aspirations than about religion this definitively focused events t ook place seven eight hundred years resonates respect many issues continue troubled middle east shap e inform relationships between westerners today seeds mistrust even dislike well misunderstanding co ntinue trouble world today quite literally sown encompassed point makes eloquently epilogue section ties together various themes contained chronicles incorporated makes relevant present distant past w hat remembers glorious epic effort recapture holy land remembers brutal often savage largely unprovo ked attack author demonstrates muslim time happy family which faction odds another seljuk turks conq uered muslim lands quarrelling well among themselves over dynastic matters only national cultural ri valries divided muslim dissent heterodoxy also endemic then again they animosities between sunni mos lems what emerges from narrative recognition brief period time these dissenting hostile factions wit hin overcame least temporarily aside animosities rivalries create unified ultimately successful fron t against western attackers clear both sides battlefield very there wealth valuable information stud ent history middle ages would well advised pursue strongest impression reader left scorn inferior mi sguided people writers whose work assembled demonstrate little interest curiosity regarding frankish knew little importance learn content caricature beliefs author demonstrated distorted perception be liefs continues hold true important offers mirror image events even most cursory student generally f amiliar teachers students alike should take notice taken some years move into inexpensive paperback format after being printed englishEssay, essays, termpaper, term paper, termpapers, term papers, boo k reports, study, college, thesis, dessertation, test answers, free research, book research, study h elp, download essay, download term papers
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