Saladin In His Time by P. H. Newby
As the Muslim sultan of Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Palestine, Saladin achieved great successes in the wars against Christian crusaders, particularly with his capture of Jerusalem in 1187, ending its 88-year occupation by the Franks. The discipline of his army then was in marked contrast to the indiscriminate slaughter that had followed the Christians' victory in 1099. In this thoroughly researched yet effortlessly readable account, the distinguished historian P.H. Newby paints the picture of Saladin as a skilful diplomat quite capable of backing his diplomacy with the swift and resolute use of force. His reputation as a generous and virtuous but firm ruler contrasts strongly with most of his predecessors and peers, Christian and Muslim. His unwavering devotion to the jihad, or holy war, inspired him - and his armies - to spread Islam and Muslim institutions throughout his empire and enabled him to fight the greatest champions of Christendom to a draw. Possessing many of the virtues the Crusaders assumed to be Christian, Saladin died without enough money to pay for his own grave.