The following book review by Lucine Kasbarian, a journalist and editorial cartoonist, recently appeared on American Thinker.
Raymond Ibrahim’s Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, chronicles the lives of eight great Crusaders who defended Christians against Islamic extermination, savagery, occupation, and slavery. These heroes demonstrated great courage on the battlefield and a fierce devotion to their Christian faith. Raymond Ibrahim, an expert in Islamic history and doctrine and a frequent contributor to American Thinker, spotlights Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, France; El Cid (Roderick Diaz of Spain); King Richard the Lionheart of England; St. Ferdinand of Spain; St. Louis of France; John Hunyadi of Wallachia; Skanderbeg, the Albanian Braveheart; and Vlad III Dracula, the Lord Impaler of Romania. The valor of these Christian ironmen who met toe to toe with such warmongers defies belief.
Written in an engaging style using accessible language, these remarkable, factual incidents leave the readers on the edge of their seats. Raymond Ibrahim conducted an impressive amount of research from first-hand sources, not only to furnish comprehensive biographies but also to present what was going on historically, politically, culturally, and socially to give the reader a fuller understanding of what was at stake.
Ibrahim devotes particular attention to each protagonist’s upbringing to provide further insight into what shaped that man’s character. Defenders of the West brings to life the daring and dynamic exploits of kings and knights who have either been misrepresented in modern history books—through ignoring and even contradicting what primary sources (Muslim and Christian) have said about the times—or by eliminating these exploits from official narratives altogether.
Audiences may recognize the names El Cid, Richard the Lionheart, St. Louis, and Vlad the Impaler (who was not a vampire like the fictional Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker). However, in the last century, these individuals have been subjected to discrediting campaigns in films, books, and even protests (think St. Louis, Missouri). The rest have mostly slipped into oblivion due to a blind-eye treatment, thus making the case for why these eight giants richly deserve to be exhumed and reanimated from the dustbin of history.
What further sets the book apart is that it sets the record straight about the Crusades—widely maligned by certain interest groups and lobbies as being inspired by greed, xenophobia, racism, colonialism, and a penchant for violence, humiliation, and conquest. That false assertion actually describes the mission of the Jihadists. Using copious eyewitness testimonies, Ibrahim backs the thesis that the Crusades—which sought to restore lands that were Christian before Jihadists invaded and forcibly Islamized them—were a defensive response and a form of resistance against Islamic attacks against Christendom.
Defenders of the West also shows how Jihadist behavior has existed on a historic continuum beginning in ancient times. This is sure to open the eyes of those who view and even excuse the atrocities of the 1915 Turkish Genocide of indigenous Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks as a singular event mired in the circumstances of the times. By allowing the primary sources to speak for themselves, the author gives readers the opportunity to compare Jihadists’ moral values to the Crusaders’ values so that they can draw their own conclusions.
Once read, these stirring, heartbreaking and fantastic tales are not easily forgotten. Rather than elaborate on the incredible and often terrifying exploits, suffice to say that these monarchs and military leaders learned from history and bitter experience that only by fighting fire with fire could they hope to establish peace and protect fellow Christians. That makes this book perfect for anyone who is fascinated by the power of knighthood and wishes to witness how far some Christians were willing to go to secure their rights to live and worship in freedom and dignity.
Ibrahim concludes by evaluating what is taking place now, including the mainstream media suppression of the global war on Christians. If we ignore his cautionary words, we do so at our own peril.
Today, powerful nations employ erroneous “both-siderism” in what they think will placate Jihadists, even as civilians are physically and spiritually devoured as peace offerings to their oppressors. A decline in morality, virtue, and discipline in the 21st century means that it will be difficult to imagine the courage of these eight great heroes appearing again in the modern day.
For those interested in the author, Raymond Ibrahim was born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents who were born and raised in the Middle East. He is the author of several books about Islam and can be found at www.raymondibrahim.com.