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Book Review, "Pelagious And The Fifth Crusade" By Donovan

1451 words - 6 pages

The era of Medival Europe that spawned the crusades was very fascinating on many levels. At this time the church and the state were fighting for supremacy and the church found something that it could use as a prod against the secular rulers. The Christian faith permeated the every day lives of the vast majority of people in Europe at this time. Of course any good Christian would see the need to support the church in its aim to take back the Holy Land from the dreaded Muslim interlopers and establish it as the center of Christianity. If everyone had this same goal throughout Europe how could the Muslims stand against the might of a united Europe? Fortunately for them, they didn't have to. History of this time, like history of any time is a history of people. Seldom have a large group of people been able to unite under one common goal without infighting and without ulterior motives. The time of the crusades illustrates this point quite effectively. Any historical account of this era therefore, should be rife with human intrigue and fascinating to read. It turns out that this is not the case in at least one respect.The book Pelagious and the Fifth Crusade , by Joseph Donovan, is a very dry and plodding look at the events surrounding the Fifth Crusade. The book was written for an audience of peers and not for the general public's consumption. One must take a good amount of knowledge of Medival Histroy and the Crusades with him in order to make any sense out of this book. Consequently, the average reader is left with a multitude of questions that go unanswered and is ultimately left unsatisfied with the experience. There is nothing exciting about this book and its style and content lend themselves to somnolence. Contemporaries of Professor Donovan will not find any new information and will be subjected to a chronological rehashing of the causes and effects of the Fifth Crusade that the author draws no conclusions about.Donovan shows little if any bias toward the material in his writing. In fact, he does not seem to take a stand on any issues except perhaps on the placing of blame for the failure of the crusade, which I will discuss later. This is part of the problem with the book. While it is not generally wise to write history with a readily recognizable bias, it is good to have and show some emotion about the topic. Bland writing is ineffectual no matter what the subject. I don't presuppose to know what Donovan's intent was when embarking to write this book, but I am pretty sure he did not mean to put his readers to sleep. Perhaps his background as an Historian led him to want to write a collection of events in a chronological order that sheds light on the Fifth Crusade. If this was his intent he succeeded, but to what end? The following is an excerpt from the book in order to shed light on its style:'Although encouragement was given to the crusade by the King of Norway, and Frederick II had made promises when he was crowned King in 1215, the only...

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