Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda members have been making the news again recently with videos on the Internet and on television. They continue to call Westerners crusaders and Zionists. This particular historical atlas will inform the reader what the real Crusades were all about. Author Angus Konstam leads off discussing bin Laden and bringing the atlas into present-day context.
Konstam has provided a very colorful and useful historical atlas. To give some background on what we now know as the Middle East or the Holy Land, he goes back to around 64 B.C. and moves forward in time from there, discussing who ruled and lived in the Holy Land. After the Roman Empire, its Eastern successor the Byzantine Empire ruled the land. Then the Muslims began expanding their territory around the seventh century A.D. and eventually took over the Holy Land. The Muslims allowed access to Jewish and Christian holy places, but when the Seljuk Turks took over the Holy Land and drove out the Byzantines in 1071, this changed. The Byzantine Emperor asked Western Europe for help; that is when Crusaders from Europe began trekking to the Holy Land to take it back. Five Crusades were undertaken from 1095 till around 1291, when the last Christian-ruled country in the Holy Land fell to the Muslims.
In addition to colorful maps and illustrations from the time period, Konstam includes modern illustrations of historical events and color photographs of crusader castles, churches, and land scenes. Konstam covers both sides of the crusades, Muslim and Christian. He provides a short index, a too-short glossary, a timeline of the Crusades, a genealogy of the Kings of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Princes of Antioch, and a simplified Ayyubid (Muslim) Dynasty chart.
He also covers the Children’s Crusade, the Templars and other military orders, the various historical important persons involved like King Richard, Saladin, St. Louis, the peasants’ crusade, and other topics and notable people.
Angus Konstam holds degrees in history and archaeology. He is the author of the upcoming books History of Shipwrecks (2008), Atlas of Medieval Europe (2007), The Forts of Celtic Britain (2006), Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece (2006), Blackbeard (2006), Civil War Ghost Stories (2005), and many other books.
To get some understanding what al Qaeda members mean when they talk about Crusaders, this book is highly recommended.