God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades
A short, brash book by a respected Baylor University professor, this volume provides a healthy dose of revisionism about the Crusades. Stark argues they were not an act of colonial imperialism, but instead the rational response of a beleaguered West to centuries of aggressive Islamic expansionism. The core of the Crusades were deeply religious families who mortgaged their lands and depleted their fortunes for the cause of liberating the Holy Lands. And the whole enterprise eventually dwindled and then was extinguished not by the superior fighting prowess of the Muslim world but by the rejection in West of the onerous taxes needed to sustain the Christian warriors and their fortresses. A darn good quick read.