Book Title: Crusader: By Horse to Jerusalem
Author: Tim Severin
Promotional Blurb: Nearly 900 years ago, Duke Godfrey de Bouillon set out on the First Crusade– and in our own time, author Tim Severin retraced his steps. The destination: Jerusalem, city of gold. For more than eight years, Severin followed the historic trail, riding through northern Europe’s green countryside and into the heat of the Near East. In the process, he covered more than 2 500 miles by horse, past ruined Crusader settlements and ancient battlefields, over arduous mountain passes, and across Anatolian steppes. A dazzling synthesis of adventure, practical history, and exploration, told by one of our finest and most respected travel writers – illustrated with his own photographs.
My Thoughts: This book could only be described as an epic read and a perfect example of what happens when obsession and imagination collide. Tim Severin completes detailed research into every aspect of the Duke’s original journey and sets out to replicate it as closely as possible. He even buys and trains the same type of horse – an Ardennes Heavy Horse – that the Duke would have ridden.
The story is a great mix of history, adventure and sheer madness as they ride across a range of countries – Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria – sometimes inhospitable and always challenging. Just the sheer logistics of traveling by horse – trying to find places to feed, water and stable them – in a world now designed and built for motor vehicles, boggles the mind.
If you enjoy ancient history, then I would highly recommend this read. Throughout the book, Severin compares his experience with that of Duke Godfrey, so you get a nice contrast between the modern day and the Duke’s original journey.
I have no desire to replicate his efforts but you have to admire his bravery, guts and sheer determination. Not for the faint-hearted!
Author bio: Tim Severin has sailed a leather boat across the Atlantic in the wake of St. Brendan the Navigator, captained an Arab sailing ship from Muscat to China to investigate the legends of Sindbad the Sailor, steered a replica of a Bronze Age galley to seek the landfalls of Jason and the Argonauts and of Ulysses, ridden the route of the first Crusader knights across Europe to Jerusalem, travelled on horseback with nomads of Mongolia in search of the heritage of Genghis Khan, sailed the Pacific on a bamboo raft to test the theory that ancient Chinese mariners could have reached to the Americas, retraced the journeys of Alfred Russell Wallace, Victorian pioneer naturalist, through the Spice Islands of Indonesia using a nineteenth century prahu, and traced the origins of Moby Dick, the great white whale among the aboriginal sea hunters of the Pacific.
He has written books about all these adventures, which have won him the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, The Book Of The Sea Award, a Christopher Prize and the literary medal of the Academie de la Marine. He has been a regular contributor to the National Geographic Magazine.
He has also recorded his journeys in documentary films which have become classics of exploration and adventure. (Source: http://www.timseverin.net)
Author website: http://www.timseverin.net
Publisher: Phoenix Press
Available from: Book Depository ($45.00), Amazon.com ($0.78)