in The Debate on the Crusades
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There have been two reasons for this book. One is that it tries to shed light on how the crusades, one of the prominent historic features of western Europe, have been perceived by literate and academic commentators over the centuries. The academic commentators and writers in print tended to assess the work on its own terms of intellectual and historical merit. Either way, the litmus test was the crudest form of the already crude 'clash of civilisation' theory; it was itself a heated-up version of Cold War propaganda. The debate formed a cocktail of debased Enlightenment positivism, ignorant cultural supremacism and historical illiteracy. The second reason is rawer, more demotic, but possibly more important. It is clear that the crusades, or perceptions of the crusades, now matter beyond the shades of academe.


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