hat sets this book apart from a standard history text is the author's attempt to explain the politics of the time that influenced the formation and decisions of the Order. Howarth has succeeded in this attempt and gives the reader a good feel for the motivations of the main players, not only in the Order itself, but also the various kings, princes, priests, popes, and other assorted characters who influenced the courseof the Holy Wars and the fate of the Order.
he book is written in a style that is easy to read and sometimes seems more like a novel than a history. But don'tlet the author's style fool you, the book presents the Order in a factual and mostly unbiased fashion. Howarth occasionally lets his opinion of the character (or lack of character) of historical figures into the book, but these comments are easily identified and do not affect his presentation of facts.
his book does not try to support any of the popular myths about the Templars, with one exception. It suggests that the Shroud of Turin may have been the mysterious head that the Templars were accused of worshipping, though this support of the theory is presented as speculation rather than an established fact. Howarth suggests the shroud may have been acquired during the sack of Constantinople where it may have been known by the name of "Mandylion". This Mandylion was known to have existed prior to the sack and was said to have been an image of Jesus.
verall, this book is a fine presentation of the history of the Templars and the crusades. The book also contains an extensive bibliography and an index.
Publication data: ISBN 0-88029-663-1, Barnes & Noble, New York,1993
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