Robert Leckie’s “Helmet For My Pillow” (Review)

I very much enjoy reading war memoirs.  I think it’s because I recognize that the authors have tapped into special knowledge that the rest of us cannot access.  They have seen beyond, somehow.  Their experiences have stamped on them an indelible impression that neither time nor distance can erase.  I will be honest:  I am envious of the special knowledge they have, and which I do not have.  Having been in the military is one thing, but having been in real combat is something very different.  Deep down, I regret that I never was given the opportunity to experience what they experienced.

Continue reading

The Curious Customs Of The Franks: How One Arab Knight Saw The Crusaders

We have recently discussed a story from the life of the learned Ali Ibn Munqidh.  His grandson Usama Ibn Munqidh (1095–1188) was a very famous poet, warrior and literary figure in medieval Islam and his memoirs are an almost unique portal of insight on how one culture saw the other.  The scholar Philip Hitti describes Usama this way:

Continue reading