The first Crusade: Military leadership entails the management of violence

Among the books I’ve been reading with regard to military history is Armies of heaven: The first Crusade and the quest for apocalypse (2011). Jay Rubenstein does a commendable job of citing sources in such a way that the story is driven forward at a steady pace, covering vast amounts of ground while maintaining the interest of the reader.

An underlying subtext refers to the capacity of any strongly held belief system to serve as a key driving force for destruction of large mumbers of fighting men and non-combatant children, women, and men in the course of warfare.

Military leadership, in this context, involves the skilful management of violence – and the creative employment of subtrefuge, impression management, and strategic alliances – in pursuit of political goals.

Below are links with brief overviews of the book:

History Musings

Union Books

I’m looking forward to reading Saladin (2011) by Anne-Marie Eddé. As noted in a Kirkus Review of Rubenstein’s book, in her book about the medieval Crusades Eddé seeks to compare the stories of eleventh and twelfth century chronicles with the diplomatic and political record.


A March 6, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “René Girard’s theories still explain the violence all around us: French-born scholar spent his career trying to understand what what makes violence a chronic problem.”


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