Warriors of God, by James Reston, Jr.
Warriors of God is a double biography of Saladin and Richard I during the Third Crusade. I first saw it when it was published about 10 years ago but didn't get to read it, so I was happy when I ran across it a few weeks ago at the library.
I must say I learned quite a bit about the Crusades. The book gives about equal time to Saladin and Richard and shows the conflict from both sides. It's no wonder Saladin is still considered such a hero in Arabic cultures; he was a good general and generally a decent man as well. He comes off a bit better than Richard, who was a great warrior and very dashing, but also greedy, bloodthirsty, and oddly vacillating at times.
I like Reston's writing--he also wrote The Last Apocalypse, a neat little book about what Europe looked like in the year 1000 AD (last time everyone was expecting the apocalypse, since the book came out in 1999). This book on the Crusades is pretty lengthy and you have to be quite interested in the topic, but it's very well written and I enjoyed it.
This is my 4th book for the Tournament of Reading; so far I have 2 history books, 1 historical fiction, and 1 medieval literature, which gets me to Peasant level. I plan to indulge in some actual literature next, but it would be good to get the fiction over with soon so I can enjoy the rest of the time. Suggestions welcome. For my literature selection, I'll go with either the Book of Margery Kempe or the Alexiad.