Rodney Stark has done it again; he has taken 'common knowledge' and turned it on its head with characteristic adeptness and smooth prose. ApplyIng his great learning to the history of the Crusades, Stark shows that they were not early and unprovoked attempts at greedy Western colonialism, but instances of pious 'penitential warfare' in the Augustianian just war tradition. They were the reactions of the pious to the religious colonialism of Islam in the tradition of Mohommed, which conquered pagan and Zorastrian Arabia and Mesopotamia, Hindu and Buddist India, and Christian Asia Minor and North Africa before they were for a time beaten back by the Christian Crusaders. For a masterful popular history of this time, this book is a must read (or perhaps, must listen)!
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