History Through the Ages

Early History Books: C500 - C1500

  • BPOFP
    Tony Berlant
    • £31.99
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    Named after a valley in what is now Southwestern New Mexico, the Mimbres culture flourished between the 10th and 12th centuries. Through the exploration of paintings on Mimbres bowls, this book offers revelations about the culture's worldview based on the patterns and shapes depicted in its pottery. Drawing on extensive research as well as photography of the flora and fauna that still thrive in the Mimbres Valley, the authors make the case that the pottery's beautiful black-and-white paintings and highly intricate designs are abstractions of hallucinogenic experiences. Presenting a distinctive new interpretation of the iconography of ancient Mimbres painted ceramics, this volume addresses Mimbres culture and how this past civilization lived and communicated with the spirit world.
  • AUXZK
    Christopher de Hamel
    • £24.00
    • RRP £30.00
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    'An endlessly fascinating and enjoyable book' Neil MacGregor 'Full of delights' Tom Stoppard An extraordinary exploration of the medieval world - the most beguiling history book of the year This is a book about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend that a well-known celebrity is no different from anyone else, and yet there is an undeniable thrill in actually meeting and talking to a person of world stature. The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste. Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible. At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge. It is a most unusual book.
  • AVODA
    Kim Hjardar
    • £23.96
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    Viking ships landed on almost every shore in the Western world during the 350 years that followed the introduction of the sail into the region, from the 9th to the 11th century. Viking ravages united the Spanish kingdoms and stopped Charlemagne and the Franks' advance in Europe. Wherever Viking ships roamed, enormous suffering followed in their wake, but the encounter between cultures changed both European and Nordic societies. Employing unorthodox and unpredictable strategies, which were hard for more organized forces to respond to, the most crucial element of the Viking's success was their basic strategy of evading the enemy by arriving by sea, then attacking quickly and with great force before withdrawing quickly. The warrior class dominated in a militarized society. Honour was everything, and breaking promises and ruining one's posthumous reputation were considered worse than death itself. If a man offended another man's honour, the only way out was blood revenge. Never before have the Viking art of war, weapons and the history of their conquests been presented together in such detail. With over 380 colour illustrations including beautiful reconstruction drawings, maps, cross-section drawings of ships, line-drawings of fortifications, battle plan reconstructions and photos of surviving artefacts including weapons and jewellery, Vikings at War provides a vivid account of one of Europe's most exciting epochs. Vikings at War was awarded the Norwegian literary prize 'Saga Prize' in 2012; currently in its fourth printing in Norwegian, this translation makes it available for the first time in English.
  • AGLBW
    James Waterson
    • £19.89
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    The Defence of Heaven brings together, for the first time in one volume, a complete history of the Jin, Song and Ming dynasties' wars fought against the Mongols. Lasting nearly two centuries, these wars, fought to defend Chinese civilisation against a brutal and unrelenting foe, pitted personal heroics against the inexorable Mongol war machine and involved every part of the Chinese state. The resistance of the Chinese dynasties to the Khans is a complex and rich story of shifting alliances and political scheming, vast armies and navies, bloody battles and an astonishing technological revolution. The great events of China's Mongol war are described and analysed, detailing their immediate and later implications for Chinese history. In this excellent new book James Waterson tackles this fascinating subject with characteristic verve and skill. Setting the Mongol war in the wider context of China's ancient and almost perpetual conflict with the northern nomads, it sheds light on the evolution of China's military society and the management, command and control of the army by the Chinese state.
  • AKYMU
    Craig Clunas
    • £19.89
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    Ming : 50 Years That Changed China
  • AYZJA
    Chris Barber
    • £19.89
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    This book is the culmination of over thirty years of work and research by the author, who is a King Arthur specialist and bestseller. The book brings new information to light by examining through a jigsaw of connections throughout Dark Age Britain, especially Wales and Cornwall, as King Arthur is revealed to have been a hereditary King of the ancient land of the Silures in South Wales. In this way, Chris Barber has set out to reveal the true identity of King Arthur, whose identity has been obscured by the mists of time and the imaginative embellishments of romantic writers through the ages. After sorting fact from fiction, he not only identifies the Celtic prince who gave rise to the legend of Arthur, but reveals his family background, 6th century inscribed stones bearing his name and those of his contemporaries; locations of his courts, battle sites such as Badon Llongborth and Camlann; the identity of his enemies, the ancient Isle of Avalon and his final resting place.
  • AHMVS
    Max Adams
    • £20.00
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    Oswald Whiteblade lived one of the most influential and colourful lives in early English history. Before his death in battle against the pagans of Mercia cut short his reign as king of Northumbria (634-42), he remodelled his northeastern English homeland as a Christian kingdom, founded the monastery of Lindisfarne, introduced a culture of learning which influenced all Europe, and became the most powerful ruler in Britain. Max Adams's thrilling account rescues Oswald from Dark Age obscurity to reveal an unjustly forgotten English hero - a king whose return from exile to reclaim his birthright was the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien's Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. But THE KING IN THE NORTH is more than just a biography of the first great English monarch; it is a stunningly researched, wide-ranging, beautifully written and revelatory portrait of early medieval England in all its aspects.
  • AULQI
    Paul Brown
    • £20.00
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    When a band of Norman adventurers arrived in southern Italy to fight in the Lombard insurrections against the Byzantine empire in the early 1000s, few would have predicted that within a few generations, by force of arms, some of these men and other later arrivals would seize control of Apulia, Campania, Calabria and Sicily. How did they make such extraordinary gains and then consolidate their power? Paul Brown, in this thoroughly researched and absorbing study, seeks to answer these questions and throw light onto the Norman conquests across the Mediterranean which were even more remarkable than those achieved in France and England.Throughout he focuses on the military side of their progress, as they advanced from mercenaries to conquerors, then crusaders. The story of the campaigns they undertook in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Near East, of the battles and sieges that marked their expansion, reveals their remarkable talent for war and the increasing efficiency of their organization.Particular attention is paid to the polyglot character of Norman forces, and the growing sophistication of their tactics, from cavalry raids to combined-arms warfare and siege craft. The dominant role played by a succession of Norman leaders from the Hauteville family is a key theme of the narrative - a line of ambitious and ruthless rulers that ran from Robert Guiscard and Bohemond to Tancred and King Roger II of Sicily.Paul Brown's account of the Norman conquests in the Mediterranean is based on the most recent scholarship in the field. It challenges some of the common assumptions about the equipment, organization and fighting methods of the Norman armies and the men who fought in them.
  • BABJW
    Paul Hill
    • £20.00
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    Robert Guiscard, William the Conqueror, Roger I of Sicily and Bohemond Prince of Antioch are just four of the exceptional Norman commanders who not only led their armies to victory in battle but also, through military force, created their own kingdoms in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Their single-minded and aggressive leadership, and the organization, discipline and fighting qualities of their armies, marked them out from their Viking forebears and from many of the armed forces that stood against them. Their brilliant careers, and those of Robert Curthose, William Rufus, Richard I of Capua and Henry I of England, are the subject of Paul Hill's latest study of medieval warfare. In a narrative packed with detail and insight, and with a wide-ranging understanding of the fighting methods and military ethos of the period, he traces the course of their conquests, focusing on them as individual commanders and on their achievements on the battlefield.The military context of their campaigns, and the conditions of warfare in France and England, in southern Italy and Sicily, and in the Near East, are vividly described, as are their decisive operations and sieges - among them Hastings, Bremule, Tinchebrai, Civitate, Misilmeri, Dyrrhachium and the Siege of Antioch. There is no doubt that the Normans' success in war depended upon the leadership qualities and military capabilities of the commanders as well as the special strengths of the armies they led. Paul Hill's accessible and authoritative account offers a fascinating portrait of these masters of warfare.
  • BGJAS
    Nic Fields
    • £20.00
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    Byzantium. Was it Greek or Roman, familiar or hybrid, barbaric or civilised, Oriental or Western? In the late eleventh century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Christendom, the seat of the Byzantine emperor, Christ s vice-regent on earth, and the centre of a predominately Christian empire, steeped in Greek cultural and artistic influences, yet founded and maintained by a Roman legal and administrative system. Despite the amalgam of Greek and Roman influences, however, its language and culture was definitely Greek. Constantinople truly was the capital of the Roman empire in the East, and from its founding under the first Constantinus to its fall under the eleventh and last Constantinus the inhabitants always called themselves Romaioi, Romans, not Hell nik s, Greeks. Over its millennium long history the empire and its capital experienced many vicissitudes that included several periods of waxing and waning and more than one golden age . Its political will to survive is still eloquently proclaimed in the monumental double land walls of Constantinople, the greatest city fortifications ever built, on which the forces of barbarism dashed themselves for a thousand years. Indeed, Byzantium was one of the longest lasting social organisations in history. Very much part of this success story was the legendary Varangian Guard, the lite body of axe-bearing Northmen sworn to remain loyal to the true Christian emperor of the Romans. There was no hope for an empire that had lost the will to prosecute the grand and awful business of adventure. The Byzantine empire was certainly not of that stamp.
  • BHAPW
    Dan Jones
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    The Knights Templar were the wealthiest, most powerful - and most secretive - of the military orders that flourished in the crusading era. Their story - encompassing as it does the greatest international conflict of the Middle Ages, a network of international finance, a swift rise in wealth and influence followed by a bloody and humiliating fall - has left a comet's tail of mystery that continues to fascinate and inspire historians, novelists and conspiracy theorists.
  • BHAOK
    Tom Williams
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    A new narrative history of the Viking Age, interwoven with exploration of the physical remains and landscapes that the Vikings fashioned and walked: their rune-stones and ship burials, settlements and battlefields. To many, the word 'Viking' brings to mind red scenes of rape and pillage, of marauders from beyond the sea rampaging around the British coastline in the last gloomy centuries before the Norman Conquest. And it is true that Britain in the Viking Age was a turbulent, violent place. The kings and warlords who have impressed their memories on the period revel in names that fire the blood and stir the imagination: Svein Forkbeard and Edmund Ironside, Ivar the Boneless and Alfred the Great, Erik Bloodaxe and Edgar the Pacifier amongst many others. Evidence for their brutality, their dominance, their avarice and their pride is still unearthed from British soil with stunning regularity. This is not, however, the whole story. In Viking Britain, Thomas Williams has drawn on his experience as Project Curator of the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend to show how the people we call Vikings came not just to raid and plunder, but to settle, to colonize and to rule. The impact on these islands was profound and enduring, shaping British social, cultural and political development for hundreds of years. Indeed, in language, literature, place-names and folk-lore, the presence of Scandinavian settlers can still be felt, and their memory - filtered and refashioned through the writings of people like J.R.R. Tolkien, William Morris and G.K.Chesterton - has transformed the western imagination. This remarkable new book draws upon new academic research and first-hand experience, drawing deeply from the relics and landscapes that the Vikings and their contemporaries fashioned and walked: their rune stones and ship burials, settlements and battlefields, poems and chronicles. The book offers a vital evocation of a forgotten world, its echoes in later history and its implications for the present. It is a stunning exploration of Viking Britain by a writer of immense literary power.
  • BKKWB
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    Joan of Arc's life and death marks a turning point in the course of the destiny both of France and of England and the history of the English and French monarchies. `It is a great shame,' wrote Etienne Pasquier in the late sixteenth century, `for no-one ever came to the help of France so opportunely and with such success as that girl, and never was the memory of a woman so torn to shreds.' Biographers have crossed swords furiously about her inspiration, each according to the personal conviction of the writer. As author Moya Longsaffe points out: 'She has been claimed as an icon by zealous combatants of every shade of opinion, clericals, anticlericals, nationalists, republicans, socialists, conspiracy theorists, feminists, far-rightists, loony-leftists, yesterday's communists, today's National Front, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. As Bernard Shaw said, in the prologue to his famous play, "the question raised by Joan's burning is a burning question still."' By returning to the original sources and employing her expertise in French literature, the author brings 'La Pucelle' alive - and does not duck the most difficult question: was she deluded, unbalanced, fraudulent, or indeed a great visionary, of the order of Catherine of Siena or Francis of Assisi?
  • BKNRN
    Max Adams
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    In 865, a great Viking army landed in East Anglia, precipitating a series of wars that would last until the middle of the following century. It was in this time of crisis that the modern kingdoms of Britain were born. In their responses to the Viking threat, these kingdoms forged their identities as hybrid cultures: vibrant and entrepreneurial peoples adapting to instability and opportunity. Traditionally, Aelfred the Great is cast as the central player in the story of Viking Age Britain. But Max Adams, while stressing the genius of Aelfred as war leader, law-giver, and forger of the English nation, has a more nuanced and variegated narrative to relate. The Britain encountered by the Scandinavians of the ninth and tenth centuries was one of regional diversity and self-conscious cultural identities: of Picts, Dal Riatans and Strathclyde Britons; of Bernicians and Deirans, East Anglians, Mercians and West Saxons.
  • BMMCZ
    WB Bartlett
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    Whilst Richard I is one of medieval England's most famous kings he is also the most controversial. He has variously been considered a great warrior but a poor king, a man driven by the quest for fame and glory but also lacking in self-discipline and prone to throwing away the short-term advantages that his military successes brought him. In this reassessment W. B. Bartlett looks at his deeds and achievements in a new light. The result is a compelling new portrait of `the Lionheart' which shows that the king is every bit as remarkable as his medieval contemporaries found him to be. This includes his Muslim enemies, who spoke of him as their most dangerous and gallant opponent. It shows him to be a man badly let down by some of those around him, especially his brother John and the duplicitous French king Philip. The foibles of his character are also exposed to the full, including his complicated relationships with the key women in his life, especially the imposing contemporary figure of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his wife, Berengaria, with whom he failed to produce an heir, leading to later suggestions of homosexuality. This is a new Richard, one for the twenty-first century, and a re-evaluation of the life story of one of the greatest personalities of medieval Europe.
  • BMRWT
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    There are many books about the Knights Templar, the medieval military order which played a key role in the crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land, the Iberian peninsula and elsewhere in Europe. What is seldom explored is the military context in which they operated, and that is why Paul Hill s highly illustrated study is so timely, for he focuses on how this military order prosecuted its wars. The order was founded as a response to attacks on pilgrims in the Holy Land, and it was involved in countless battles and sieges, always at the forefront of crusading warfare. This absorbing study examines why they were such an important aspect of medieval warfare on the frontiers of Christendom for nearly two hundred years. Paul Hill shows how they were funded and supplied, how they organized their forces on campaign and on the battlefield and the strategies and tactics they employed in the various theatres of warfare in which they fought. Templar leadership, command and control are examined, and sections cover their battles and campaigns, fortifications and castles.
  • AHKYK
    Barry Cunliffe
    • £20.19
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    The last Ice Age, which came to an end about 12,000 years ago, swept the bands of hunter gatherers from the face of the land that was to become Britain and Ireland, but as the ice sheets retreated and the climate improved so human groups spread slowly northwards, re-colonizing the land that had been laid waste. From that time onwards Britain and Ireland have been continuously inhabited and the resident population has increased from a few hundreds to more than 60 million. Britain Begins is nothing less than the story of the origins of the British and the Irish peoples, from around 10,000BC to the eve of the Norman Conquest. Using the most up to date archaeological evidence together with new work on DNA and other scientific techniques which help us to trace the origins and movements of these early settlers, Barry Cunliffe offers a rich narrative account of the first islanders - who they were, where they came from, and how they interacted one with another. Underlying this narrative throughout is the story of the sea, which allowed the islanders and their continental neighbours to be in constant contact. The story told by the archaeological evidence, in later periods augmented by historical texts, satisfies our need to know who we are and where we come from. But before the development of the discipline of archaeology, people used what scraps there were, gleaned from Biblical and classical texts, to create a largely mythological origin for the British. Britain Begins also explores the development of these early myths, which show our ancestors attempting to understand their origins. And, as Cunliffe shows, today's archaeologists are driven by the same desire to understand the past - the only real difference is that we have vastly more evidence to work with.
  • AUIQE
    Jonathan Sumption
    • £17.60
    • RRP £22.00
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    Cursed Kings tells the story of the destruction of France by the madness of its king and the greed and violence of his family. In the early fifteenth century, France had gone from being the strongest and most populous nation state of medieval Europe to suffering a complete internal collapse and a partial conquest by a foreign power. It had never happened before in the country's history - and it would not happen again until 1940. Into the void left by this domestic catastrophe, strode one of the most remarkable rulers of the age, Henry V of England, the victor of Agincourt, who conquered much of northern France before dying at the age of thirty-six, just two months before he would have become King of France. Following on from Divided Houses (winner of the Wolfson History Prize and shortlisted for the Hessel-Tiltman), Cursed Kings is the magisterial new chapter in 'one of the great historical works of our time' (Allan Massie).
  • AHKGY
    • £15.89
    • RRP £19.99
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    Were the Vikings, as contemporary description had it, a 'valiant, wrathful, foreign, purely pagan people' who swept in from the sea to plunder and slaughter? Or in the words of a Manx folksong 'ware-wolves keen in hungry quest', who lived and died by the sea and the sword. Or were they unusually successful merchants, extortionists, and pioneer explorers? This book, by leading international scholars, considers the latest research and presents a compelling picture of the Vikings and their age. Excavations as far apart as Dublin and Newfoundland, York and Kiev, provide fascinating archaeological evidence, expertly interpreted in this extensively illustrated book.
  • AVWJW
    John Carr
    • £15.99
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    The Knights of St John evolved during the Crusades from a monastic order providing hostels for Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. The need to provide armed escorts to the pilgrims began their transformation into a Military Order. Their fervour and discipline made them an elite component of most Crusader armies and Hospitaller Knights (as they were also known) took part in most of the major engagements, including Hattin, Acre and Arsuf. After the Muslims had reconquered the Crusader Kingdoms, the Order continued to fight from a new base, first in Rhodes and then in Malta. Taking to the sea, the Hospitallers became one of the major naval powers in the Mediterranean, defending Christian shipping from the Barbary Pirates (and increasingly turning to piracy themselves as funding from their estates in Europe dried up). They provided a crucial bulwark against Islamic expansion in the Mediterranean, obstinately resisting a massive siege of Malta by the Ottoman Turks in 1565. The Order remained a significant power in the Mediterranean until their defeat by Napoleon in 1798.
  • AHKRY
    Jonathan Riley-Smith
    • £15.99
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    Written by a team of leading scholars, this richly illustrated book, with over 200 colour and black and white pictures, presents an authoritative and comprehensive history of the Crusades from the preaching of the First Crusade in 1095 to the legacy of crusading ideas and imagery today.
  • AVLGM
    Matthew Lewis
    • £16.00
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    Henry III became King of England within days of his ninth birthday. His father, King John, had overseen a disastrous period in English history and the boy king inherited a country embroiled in a bitter, entrenched war with itself. With barons inviting a French prince to take the crown, the young Henry was forced to rely on others to maintain him in his position. As he grew into adulthood, Henry had to manage the transition to a personal rule, wrenching power from men who had held it almost unchecked for years. With a settled position at home, attention could turn to the recovery of lost territory abroad and the salvaging of Henry's family reputation. All would not go according to plan. Failures abroad led to more trouble at home as restless barons became disillusioned and found a figurehead in Simon de Montfort, a man who would transform himself from Henry's favourite to a de facto king. Imprisoned and stripped of his power, Henry would again have to fight for his kingdom, relying not on older mentors now, but on his immensely capable son. Henry was handed a poisoned chalice, a crown that was cracked and tarnished. He was given fifty-six years to mend the damage his father had done. It was to be over half a century of highs and lows in a country crying out for stability, and the final measure of Henry's achievements will lie in understanding the crown that he left to his son, Edward I, and in measuring the impact of tumultuous events on him and his effect on those events.
  • AXIEY
    Miles Russell
    • £16.00
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    'Arthur himself, having put on a coat of mail suitable to the grandeur of so powerful a king, placed a golden helmet on his head, on which was engraved the figure of a dragon; and on his shoulders his shield called Priwen ...Then girding on his Caliburn, which was an excellent sword made in the Isle of Avalon, he graced his right hand with his lance'. The Historia Regum Britanniae, or History of the Kings of Britain, was written in around 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth and purports to tell the story of the kings of Britain from the settlement of the island by the Trojan Brutus, grandson of Aeneas, through to the seventh century when the Anglo-Saxons had taken control of much of Britain. History of the Kings of Britain was highly popular during the Middle Ages and copies spread across the whole of western Europe, with over 200 manuscripts surviving from the period. It went on to influence texts into the sixteenth century and was one of the first to weave together the legend of King Arthur as well as the stories of King Lear and Cymbeline, both later immortalised by Shakespeare. Although it purports to be history, History of the Kings of Britain has long been recognised as thoroughly unreliable and considered to be a literary work of national myth instead. In this book, Dr Miles Russell takes another look at Geoffrey of Monmouth's work and argues that there is verifiable archaeological and historical information to be found there, possibly deriving from a lost British source also used by other Dark Age texts.
  • ASQMP
    Malcolm Lambert
    • £16.00
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    Malcolm Lambert investigates the histories of Christianity and Islam to trace the origins and development of crusade and jihad. In a narrative that brims with larger than life characters - among them, Richard Lionheart, Nur al-Din, Saladin, Baybars and Ghengiz Khan - he describes the fiercely fought struggles to control the sacred places of the Middle East between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Crusade and jihad are often reckoned two sides of the same coin but this simple opposition, the author shows, conceals crucial differences and similarities. From the outset jihad reflected tensions within as much as outside Islam. Jihad also described the struggle between good and evil in the souls of believers. Calls for crusade and jihad disguised ambitions for power and plunder, but they also equally inspired acts of chivalry and heroism. Malcolm Lambert then moves to the more recent history of jihad and crusade. In nineteenth-century France he finds imperialism configured as a crusade to enlighten the barbarians. Meanwhile in Britain one of the crusading orders transformed itself into the St John Ambulance Brigade. More recently in the USA crusade has been evoked in the war on terror while jihad is now the rallying cry for Islamic extremists round the world. Yet, Dr Lambert notes, it still retains its peaceful spiritual dimension. Crusade and Jihad is a vivid, balanced account of two of the most powerful forces of history.