Saladin: The Sultan Who Vanquished the Crusaders and Built an Islamic Empire (DaCapo Press), by John Man
Oct. 11, 2016
Saladin is a familiar name for anyone concerned with the Middle East. The medieval Muslim leader ruled over Sunni and Shia with relative equanimity and recaptured Jerusalem from the Roman Catholic Crusaders. British biographer John Man paints a picture of discretion and generosity; Saladin’s violence was temperate by the standards of his era and he was far less cruel to opponents than anyone expected. Writing for a popular audience, Man defines Saladin in terms easily understood: He was a master of soft as well as hard power; he was resilient, a problem solver whose self-esteem didn’t get in the way of forming close personal relations. “Programmed for leadership,” like a successful CEO or politician in today’s world, Saladin made his mark by having a vision that proved contagious: uniting the Muslim world to drive out the invaders. Little wonder his name is still spoken today.