by Maalouf, Amin
European and Arab versions of the Crusades have little in common. For the Arabs, the 12th and 13th centuries were not a time for glorious conquest, rather they were years of sacrifice and privation spent in repelling a brutal and destructive invasion by hordes of Western barbarians.
When, under Saladin, a powerful Muslim army -- inspired by prophets and poets -- succeeded in destroying Crusader kingdoms, it was the greatest victory ever won by a non-European society against the West. The memory of it still lives in the minds of Arabs today.
"Maalouf's story of the Crusades vividly portrays a society rent by internal conflict and devasted by alien warriors. Those two traumatic centuries of Middle Eastern history shaped Arab and Islamic attitudes toward the West, and in many ways still do." (B-O-T Editorial Review Board)
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