The Second Crusade 1148: Disaster Outside Damascus by David Nicolle is a book in Osprey’s “Campaign” series, which gives accounts of history’s greatest conflicts. The books detail the command strategies, tactics, and battle experiences of the opposing forces throughout the crucial stages of the campaign.
The basic premise of this campaign is that the French King Louis VII and German King Konrad III, along with the Christian forces in the Holy Land, led a force to try to capture Damascus. They were extremely confident because up to this point the Christians had not lost a campaign. The Muslim forces were splintered and preyed upon each other. This all changed with the Damascus campaign – the Christian forces were defeated before the walls of Damascus by a force commanded by various Muslim leaders.
Nicolle, a scholar in medieval and Islamic warfare, has brought his extensive knowledge to his latest book. The book is divided into several headings: Opposing Commanders, Opposing Forces, Opposing Plans, The Campaign, and Aftermath. He provides a balanced narrative of what went right and wrong for the opposing forces.
Interspersed throughout the book are a number of photographs and color illustrations. The illustrations are by Christa Hook. Three of the illustrations are two-page ones that portray key events that occurred during the campaign. In addition, there are several maps included that show the land route that the Crusaders took on their way to the Holy Land and the battle. The battle maps help you understand how the different skirmishes related to the siege of Damascus.
This book is a fine companion to the other two volumes published by Osprey that highlight the First and Third Crusades.