The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades is a book written by Paul Cobb. Being a Professor of Islamic History, he deepened into this topic for a long time and received an opportunity to provide his readers with the most significant historical information. In addition to that, the author had written two other books in this sphere that were highly appreciated by professionals, which proves that The Race for Paradise is an authoritative and reliable source of information.
We will write a custom Essay on The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades specifically for you
301 certified writers online
In his work, Cobb revealed an Islamic view on those events that are usually described from the European side. The professional did not stop on those simple explanations of the Crusades’ history during the Middle Ages and disclosed more complex ideas. He discusses the Crusades in the framework of European expansion that reached Islamic countries.
The book consists of seven chapters, prolog, and afterword. In addition to that, it includes additional sections, such as acknowledgments, maps and illustrations, a note about names, principal historical figures and dynasties, abbreviations, notes, bibliographic sketch, and index.
It focuses on the Islamic leaders and politics of crusading territories from the 11th to the 15th fifteenth centuries. Thus, while western professionals discuss “the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and North Africa and the Middle East” as separate areas of conflict, Cobb claims that they gathered for “global Frankish assault on Islam” (156). He states that Frankish people (western European Christians) interfered with religion and politics. Regardless of their modern views, they took slaves and cooperated with some Muslim leaders against those who supported other Franks so that Islam and Christianity competed (278). Even though the history of the Crusades cannot explain current struggles, it allows the readers to find out how Christians and Muslims were connected in the past.
Cobb based his writing on qualitative research, literature review, in particular. Then he analyzed obtained information and interpreted it from his point of view. He refers to the multidisciplinary approach to discuss a wide variety of features that can be observed in the opposition between Christianity and Islamic religion. Cobb provides information in a logical order and includes many details and clarifications to enhance readers’ understanding. Even though his book can be too complicated for school children, its main ideas are likely to be understood by everyone.
Being an Islamic scholar, the author received an opportunity to reach a lot of sources that are generally difficult to find. He based his book on authentic Islamic sources that are considered to be reliable by other professionals as well, such as those written in the eleventh century. What is more, he worked with sources written in Arabic, which provided Cobb with the opportunity to use those books and articles that were not translated in English. It also means that a lot of his sources are new and were not utilized by other scientists and researchers who discussed his topic. Cobb prefers to refer to the writings of Islamic contemporaries instead of western ones, as they consider everything from the Christian point of view. In this way, there is a high possibility of the fact that Cobb reveals information that was not previously discovered by others, which makes his work even more critical.
The author made his book not very difficult to read and understand so that it can be useful even for those readers who are not involved in the sphere but are interested in history. Even though a lot of complex and compound sentences are used, it does not affect the understanding adversely, as many explanations are added. Still, it cannot be denied that the language is not very simple and that some people will find reading this source challenging. Fortunately, Cobb added several sections that made it easier to work with the book and perceive the information written in it, such as maps and illustrations or a list of names of historical figures.
Due to this book, I got to know a lot of interesting facts about the confrontations between Muslims and the participants of the Crusades. I realized that the first experienced various situations during the holy war and found out that some Muslims and Franks cooperated successfully even though they are believed to be at enmity. My attention was attracted by the way different groups of people responded to the threat, as in the majority of sources they are divided just to leaders and the general public. I realized that for medieval Muslims, the Crusades turned out to be not only religious but also cultural, diplomatic, commercial and political events that affected their reality and reshaped it. They made Muslims ponder and master international relations.
Cobb does not only focus on the information received from the authoritative sources but also adds his own explanations and ideas. In this way, he improves readers’ understanding but also increases risks of implementing biases. For example, he adds his assumptions: “initially – and perhaps fittingly” (Cobb 45). It would be better if only objective information was provided for the readers so that they could make their own interpretations and conclusions.
Cobb, Paul. The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades. Oxford University Press, 2014.