Saladin is best known in the west for his conquest of Jerusalem and his clash with Richard the Lionheart, but his life and career was much more complex than that. Saladin was something of an outsider - a Kurd operating within the largely Turkish leadership of Syria, but he became the most powerful figure in the Islamic world and the ruler of a sizable empire held together almost entirely by his own abilities.
Hindley's biography begins with Saladin's moment of glory, the fall or liberation of Jerusalem in 1187, before moving back to look at the world that Saladin was born into, the rise of his family and his own early career. He then moves on to examine Saladin's rise to power, first as Vizir of Egypt and then as a major ruler in his own right. This was the section of the book that I found most valuable, presenting us with an inside view of a world that is so often seen from the other side, simply as the enemy of the crusaders.
The climactic clash between Saladin and the Crusaders is dealt with in some detail. The campaign that saw Saladin win his most famous victory, at Hattin, effectively destroying the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the campaign against Richard the Lionheart, are both dealt with in some detail, but so are the campaigns that filled the years between the fall of Jerusalem and the arrival of Richard.
This is a valuable biography of one of the most attractive figures in Medieval history, a rare example of a leader who was respected on both sides of the religious divide in the Holy Land, and one whose reputation has deservedly survived intact across the intervening centuries.
1 - Jerusalem
2 - Across the Battle Lines
3 - The Quadrilateral of Power
4 - Nur-ad-Din and the Propaganda of the Jihad
5 - The Family of Aiyub
6 - Vizir of Egypt
7 - The Critical Years
8 - Triumph in the North
9 - Dynast and Hero
10 - Oh! Sweet Victory
11 - The Threat from the North
12 - Acre, the City for which the World Contended
13 - Saracens and Crusaders
14 - The Death of a Hero
15 - Epilogue
Author: Geoffrey Hindley
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1976 original