From 1097 to 1291 A.D., the first six and only major Crusades took place in a cyclical frenzy of religious and commercial zeal, chivalry and treachery, slaughter and salvation. As with many Biblical-film extravaganzas, it is difficult to tell the Crusaders without a secrecard, but Duggan on the whole has done pretty well keeping straight the tangle of duplicate titles, overlapping allegiances, and similarities of name among the noblemen, clerical knights, mamelukes and assorted infidels who clashed in countless battles over Anticoh, Tyre, Ascalon, Acre, and the other communities of the Outremer, as the land of the Holy Places was known. ""Chance,"" says Duggan, ""especially the chance of unexpected death, played a great part in the history of the doctorless Middle Ages."" The brisk turnover in the Papacy, the dissensions of lesser clerics in the field, the distrust of Europe's crowned heads of one another's intentions, and the fiasco of the Children's Crusade ""which helped to give the Holy War a bad name among the indifferent,"" combined to frustrate every attempt to restore the Christian Holy Places to Christian control for more than short periods. ""As often happens, the wicked were too strong"" for the dedicated knights. ""But they did their best until they were beaten, and no man can do more"". And few men do better than Alfred Duggan in handling history or fiction on a historical base with a respect for fact and a command of style.