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* The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land
Thomas Asbridge. Ecco, $34.99 (784p) ISBN 978-0-06-078728-8
Asbridge (The First Crusade) has produced a truly comprehensive history of holy war in the Holy Land. (Another Crusade history, Jonathan Phillips's Holy Warriors, is also due in March.) Emphasizing the dramatic Third Crusade and its heroic antagonists, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, the narrative reads like an adventure story, albeit one that is both factual and instructive. The accounts of the massive Muslim victory at Hattin and the successful Crusader siege of Acre are especially vivid, with almost …