Robert Irwin is the Middle East Editor of the Times Literary Supplement and the author of many books, including Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography. His most recent novel, My Life Is Like a Fairy Tale, was published in the UK in November.
 (February 2020)

IN THE REVIEW

Whose Crusades?

A battle during the First Crusade; illustration from Sébastien Mamerot’s Les Passages d’Outremer, circa 1474

The World of the Crusades: An Illustrated History

by Christopher Tyerman

Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands

by Dan Jones
There are certain historical subjects—Mary Queen of Scots, Napoleon, the American Civil War, and the downfall of Hitler among them—that have attracted such a mass of writing and rewriting that they have acquired a gravitational pull and, rather than discouraging other historians from producing more books on these well-worn subjects, …

The Contested Legacy of Muslim Spain

Muhammad XII, also known as Boabdil, the last Muslim ruler of Granada, leaving the city in 1492 after its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella; detail of an altarpiece in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Granada, sixteenth century

Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain

by Brian A. Catlos
The historiography of medieval Spain is an academic battleground on which historians and other intellectuals pick over elements of the country’s past that might support one or another version of its national identity. The question of national identity became acute during and after the Spanish Civil War. In 1943 the …