Friday, August 12, 2022

NEW BOOK BY RAYMOND IBRAHIM: Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam

New title by scholar and historian Raymond Ibrahim presents "vivid and dramatic profiles of eight extraordinary warriors—some saints, some sinners—who defended the Christian West against Islamic invasions."

"Discover the real Count Dracula, Spain’s El Cid, England’s Richard Lionheart, and many other historical figures, whose true and original claim to fame revolved around their defiant stance against jihadist aggression. An instructive and inspiring read; whereas Sword and Scimitar revolved around decisive battles, Defenders of the West revolves around decisive men." (From the publisher's description.)

I saw the announcement of this title (just published in late July) while traveling earlier this year, and have just now purchased the Kindle edition and begun to read it. The publisher's blurb and the solid but reserved Foreword by Victor Davis Hanson don't even begin to do it justice. 

Ibrahim's Introduction positively crackles with intelligence and energy, and advances with a certain intensity — even ferocity — his warnings about Islam, as well as his warnings concerning the ever weakening postmodern, post-Christian West, which in spite of its superiority in force over the Islamic world, nevertheless is feeble in its belief in and defense of its own heritage, purpose and future. This is a major book with many lessons for us, won at great cost by valiant figures of our culture's past.

The below review by Mark Tapson frames this important new work in vigorous and appropriate terms.

Order Raymond Ibrahim’s Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam HERE.

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Defenders of the West

Raymond Ibrahim profiles eight heroes in the clash of civilizations.

by Mark Tapson, FrontPage Mag, July 28, 2022

Historiography has been dominated in recent decades almost exclusively by leftists determined to take a wrecking ball to the glorious edifice of Western civilization in the name of social justice and multiculturalism. New York Times propagandist Nikole Hannah-Jones of the widely-debunked but nonetheless influential 1619 Project comes to mind. The coordinated mission of such activists has been to pervert and subvert the grand narrative of our culture into a sordid tale of oppression, exploitation, and white supremacy, and to brand all our flawed heroes as racists and knock them off their pedestals, both figuratively and literally.

This is one reason why the new book Defenders of the West: The Christian Heroes Who Stood Against Islam, by historian Raymond Ibrahim... is such a refreshing, even thrilling read. As if the title alone weren’t guaranteed to inflame Progressive sensibilities, the book is unabashedly dedicated to “all the Past, Present, and Future Defenders of that which is Good, Right, and True.” Standing up for the Good, the Right, and the True (capitalized, no less) in our postmodern, post-Christian era? That’s a bold, increasingly rare position for any historian and publisher (Bombardier Books, in this case) to take today.

Defenders is a sort of follow-up to Ibrahim’s essential 2018 book Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West. That book centered on decisive battles in the clash of civilizations, while the newer one zeroes in on the profiles of eight decisive men in that ongoing conflict, between the 11th and 15th centuries, from Spain’s El Cid and England’s Richard Lionheart to lesser-known but no less heroic figures such as France’s Saint Louis and the “Albanian Braveheart” Skanderbeg.

As in Sword and Scimitar, the foreword to Defenders was written by renowned historian Victor Davis Hanson, who actually served as Ibrahim’s Master’s thesis advisor in the late ‘90s. Hanson says of the men in Ibrahim’s latest, “In what now may seem an archaic sensibility, they were fighting for a unique way of life—or often a restoration of it—against a rising challenge completely foreign to everything in their experience, from the aspirations voiced on the Sermon of the Mount to Classical traditions of individual liberty.” Ibrahim himself explains that the book is about “eight men who, driven by something greater than themselves, devoted much of their lives and went to great lengths… to make a militant if not desperate stand against Islamic aggression.”

Ibrahim begins his profiles with a chapter on one of the most notable figures of the Age of Chivalry, Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, descendant of Charlemagne and Charles Martel. Godfrey – “a man totally devoted to war and God,” as one contemporary put it – did not hesitate to answer Pope Urban II’s call in 1096 to undertake the first of the Crusades against the Muslim occupiers of the Holy Land. The Crusades have been demonized, of course, by today’s anti-Western apologists as Christian aggression against Islam, when in fact, as Ibrahim notes,

Duke Godfrey and the other 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 because] Muslims had violently conquered that city most holy to Chris­tians—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.

One of the very first to set out to liberate the Holy Land, Godfrey led a force of 80,000 crusaders there, beginning years of combating not only Muslim warriors while retaking such cities as Nicaea and Antioch but hunger and thirst as well, in the unforgiving desert region, before finally reaching the gates of Jerusalem in 1099. Ibrahim’s rendering of the Crusaders’ determined siege of the Muslim-held city, and the bloody aftermath, is masterful storytelling. In the end, as historian Edward Gibbon described it, “God­frey of Bouillon stood victorious on the walls of Jerusalem. His example was followed on every side by the emulation of valour; and about four hundred and sixty years after the conquest of Omar, the holy city was rescued from the Mohammedan yoke.”

In the wake of the siege, a reluctant Godfrey was chosen unanimously to rule the city, but only under his condition that he not be called King of Jerusalem, but Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. “God forbid,” he said, “that I should be crowned with a crown of gold, where my Saviour bore a crown of thorns.”

Upon his untimely death a year later at the age of 40 (likely having been poisoned by Muslim enemies), King Godfrey’s fame immediately spread far and wide; Ibrahim notes that “he was seen as the chivalrous hero” of the First Cru­sade. Visiting the Holy Sepulchre in 1867, no less a luminary than Mark Twain observed, upon seeing the relic of Godfrey’s sword there,

No blade in Christendom wields such enchantment as this—no blade of all that rust in the ancestral halls of Europe is able to invoke such visions of romance in the brain of him who looks upon it— none that can prate of such chivalric deeds or tell such brave tales of the warrior days of old…. This very sword has cloven hundreds of Saracen Knights from crown to chin in those old times when Godfrey wielded it.

In subsequent but no less fascinating chapters, Ibrahim paints portraits of seven more inspirational heroes of the West...

Read the full review with much more...