An epic story of empire-building and bloody conflict, this
ground-breaking biography of one of history's most venerated
military and religious heroes opens a window on the Islamic and
Christian worlds' complex relationship. When Saladin recaptured
Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, returning the Holy City to
Islamic rule for the first time in almost ninety years, he sent
shockwaves throughout Christian Europe and the Muslim Near East
that reverberate today. It was the culmination of a supremely
exciting life, fraught with challenges but blessed occasionally
with marvellous good fortune. Born into a significant Kurdish
family in northern Iraq, Saladin shot to power far way in Egypt
under the tutelage of his uncle. Over two decades, this warrior and
diplomat worked tirelessly to build an immense empire that
stretched from North Africa to Western Iraq. His even greater
achievement was political: uniting this turbulent coalition of
people from a bewildering variety of religious and ethnic
backgrounds behind his assault on the Holy Lands. And yet the
capturing of Jerusalem was by no means the end of Saladin's epic
and confounding story. Drawing primarily on Arabic as well as
European sources, this is the most comprehensive account yet
written not just of the man but of the legend to which he gave
birth, describing vividly the relentless action of his life and
then tracing its aftermath through culture and politics all the way
to the present. It reveals the personal qualities that explain his
enduring reputation as a man of faith, generosity, mercy and
justice, even while showing him to be capable of mistakes,
self-interest and cruelty. After Saladin's death, it goes on to
show how in the West this Sunni Muslim acquired the status of a
chivalric hero, even while throughout the Islamic world he became -
and continues to be - the greatest jihadist ever to have lived. The
Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin shows how this one man's life
takes us beyond the crude stereotypes of the `Clash of
Civilisations' even while his legacy explains them: an intimate
portrait of a towering figure of world history that is thrillingly
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