Saturday, December 23, 2006

"God Wills It!": Understanding the Crusades, by Prof. Thomas Madden

This is not exactly an audiobook. It's a course taught in 14 lectures by a professor of Medieval History and chair of the History Department at St. Louis University. But it was 8:10:55 long, so it seemed like a book to me.

Professor Madden (pictured left) breaks down the Crusades into external Crusades against the Muslims and internal Crusades against Christian heretics. But the majority of the time is spent on the Crusades to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims over a period of about 500 years. There are 5 major Crusades recognized in this series, and they all get a pretty thorough and interesting treatment.

These lectures don't sound like a manuscript being read for dramatic effect, but they do sound like they were given in a studio as opposed to a lecture hall, with all the ambient noise associated with that venue. However, at the end of some of the lectures a narrator breaks in to announce that a student had posed a question at the end of the lecture, and a recorded answer is presented separately.

As a history nerd, I enjoyed these for the sense of completeness of the overview and depth of detail. There is not a lot of personal anecdote about the players, so it is just the facts. But there are so many facts and the narration is so well organized, that you don't get lost in the droning vastness of it all. I thought this was an excellent presentation and I give it 4 stars.

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