Review of Defending the City of God: A Medieval Queen, the First Crusades, and the Quest for Peace in Jerusalem

Author: Sharan Newman

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

This was an excellent book for me because I know next to nothing about the Crusades and about the Latin States in the Levant in the 12th and 13th Centuries; I was bored to tears by Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered because I had no context. Newman’s writing is clear and unravels a lot of the complex machinations behind conflict in the Near East at the time, and her depictions of the political leaders of the times are compelling, they bring them to life.

My one quibble with it is Newman’s lack of force when describing what she does not know. She could be firmer in making suggestions, but instead whimsically asks what further research can do and doubts her ability to know anything that is not already known. I appreciate it when an author hints towards information without asserting knowledge, and would not have been offended had she done that, but an author who weakly laments a lack of knowledge brings questions of motivation and conviction.

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