Defenders of the Faith, by James Reston, Jr.

Fantastic book; loved all of it. It’s a history about the early 1500s, when Charles V and Clement VII and Henry VIII and Francis I dominated the European landscape, and Suleyman the Magnificent ruled in the East. Reston’s done a fantastic job weaving together geographically dispersed but thematically very related activities, and I found it riveting.

And, actually, the best of the 5 books he considers a cycle looking at the conflict between Christianity and Islam (and eventually between Christianity and science). It started with The Last Apocalypse, about the time period around 1000 AD, then the 3rd Crusade (Warriors of God), continued by looking at the Christian conquest of Spain (Dogs of War), through Defenders of the Faith, and concluding with Galileo: A Life.

At least Reston includes Galileo in his conception of the cycle — I found it quite different in character than the other 4.

But all 5 books are highly recommended — among my favorite histories.

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