Paula Bolyard, chief editor of PJ Media, recently wrote the following review, titled “Raymond Ibrahim’s ‘Defenders of the West’ Makes for a Great Gift for the History Lover in Your Life”:
PJ Media contributor Raymond Ibrahim has written an engaging, scrupulously documented book chronicling stories of the men who defended the Christian West from the violent, sadistic Islamic invaders of their day. Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, a follow-up to Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War Between Islam and the West, profiles eight men, some of whom you may be familiar with, others not, who stood up against Muslims who were murdering, pillaging, and raping their way across the Christian West.
The book, which is heavily footnoted and cites an astounding number of primary sources, highlights: Duke Godfrey: Defender of Christ’s Sepulcher; The Cid: Lord and Master of War; King Richard: The Lion that Roared at Islam; Saint Ferdinand: Savior of Spain; Saint Louis: Christ’s Tragic Hero; John Hunyadi: The White Knight of Wallachia; Skanderberg: The Albanian Braveheart; and Vlad Dracula: The Dread Lord Impaler. While Defenders of the West is an important historical work, it’s not a dry textbook on the topic, thanks to Ibrahim’s storytelling prowess.
The book is a needed corrective to the modern narrative about The Crusades—that Christians were the aggressors against innocent, non-violent Muslims. Ibrahim writes in the Conclusion, “Although venerated as heroic Defenders of the West by their contemporaries and centuries’ worth of posterity, all eight men profiled in the preceding pages are now explicitly or implicitly seen as the ‘bad guys’ by many of their civilizational heirs.”
Why? “For starters, they defended the lands and cause of Christendom and actually stood against the conquering armies of Islam,” Ibrahim explains. “This is a big no-no for that overwhelming force—generically known as ‘the Left’—that currently dominates mainstream thought and discourse, particularly through those two institutions that have had a profound impact on shaping Western society’s epistemology: media (social and otherwise—news, films, comedies, documentaries, and of course, Hollywood) and academia (from kindergarten to postgraduate studies).”
The author points out that the first Crusaders “traveled to the Holy Land only because Muslims had been slaughtering and enslaving literally hundreds of thousands of Christians in the region over the preceding years and decades” and that Muslims had violently conquered Jerusalem, “repeatedly defiling and torching Christ’s Sepulchre therein—to say nothing of the Islamic conquest of two-thirds of the Christian world in the preceding centuries, all of which gave Europe’s Christians little choice but to fight fire with fire.”
Ibrahim notes that the focus of this work was not to determine whether the Defenders of the West were “true” Christians: “In short and for our purposes, any Defender who identified himself as a Christian and defined his conflict with Islam as on behalf of Christianity—as did all eight men profiled in the coming pages—was, by my standards, deemed eligible for inclusion in this book on ‘Christian heroes.’” He invites readers to determine for themselves whether or not they fit the description.
You’d be hard-pressed to find the information contained in Defenders of the West in a modern academic setting or Hollywood portrayal, which is why this book is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand the conflict between Islam and the West.