There clearly has been a marked rise of interest in the Crusades since the start of the present war in Iraq--an interest spurred at least in part by President George W. Bush's talk of an American crusade against terror in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Up to this point, the renaissance in publications about the Crusades largely has been limited to works that fit squarely within traditional historical scholarship. Stark and Housley, on the other hand, provide Crusades volumes for an age in which information is targeted to distinct and splintered interest groups.
When Pope Benedict XVI recently quoted a 14th-century emperor who claimed that Islam’s singular contribution to the world was the doctrine of spreading religion by violence, Muslim reaction was swift and angry.
Thousands of medieval Christians answer the spiritual call of the pope, take up arms, and travel to the Holy Land to defend the faith against a barbaric and militaristic Muslim foe. The war is bloody, and over time Jerusalem is won, then lost again—but the spread of Islam into Christendom is halted.