Most Americans, I would wager, know of Richard the Lionheart through the various Robin Hood movies, as the king who was busy battling in the crusades while his brother ran roughshod over the English people he left behind. King Richard was indeed an important character during the crusades, but as I learned reading (listening to) this book, he didn’t appear until the third of five major crusades.
Thomas Asbridge does an excellent job of presenting the full picture of the two centuries worth of crusades. He includes a significant amount of details from both the Christian and the Muslim sides, revealing the motivations, capabilities and challenges of the combatants. The story is more complex than I realized and I’m grateful for the fairly-balanced portrayal of the era.
Furthermore, he describes the era’s brutality: in battle and politics, with prisoners, and with life in general. As a kid, I often played the game Stratego, but never understood the importance or roll of the “miner.” They played a crucial role attacking the castles, but you’ll need to read the book for more details!
Derek Perkins did a journeyman’s job reading the book, adding just enough inflection to keep the story entertaining.
Review by Ralph Bender, MBA, CFP®
Narrated by Derek Perkins