'An astonishing array of themes and characters' - John Man 'The author brings together a wealth of information which has, until now, only been available in highly specialised academic journals and scholarly books' - David Nicolle •Analyses the Mamluk-Mongol War and the reasons for the Mamluks' eventual victory •Reveals their remarkable contribution to military theory •Sheds light on the deadly conflict between Christendom and Islam The Mamluks were, at one distinct point in history, the greatest body of fighting men in the world and the quintessence of the mounted warrior, reaching near perfection in their skill with the bow, lance and sword. They were slave soldiers, imported as boys into the Islamic Empire from the pagan Steppes, but they became its saviour, defeating the Mongols and forming the machine of jihad that destroyed the Crusader kingdoms of Palestine and Syria. They entered the Islamic world as unlettered automatons and through a total application to the craft of the warrior they became more than soldiers. After a bloody seizure of power from their masters, the descendants of Saladin, they developed a martial code and an honour system based on barracks brotherhood, a sophisticated military society that harnessed the state's energies for total war and produced a series of treatises on cavalry tactics, martial training, mounted archery and scientific and analytical approaches to warfare that more than compare to Sun Zi's Art of War, the Western Codes of Chivalry and the Bushido in their complexity, beauty of language and comprehensive coverage of the bloody business of war. Their story embraces many of the great themes of medieval military endeavour: the Crusaders and the deadly contest between Islam and Christendom, the Mongols and their vision of world dominion, Tamerlane and the rise of the Ottoman Empire whose own slave soldiers, the Janissaries, would be the Mamluks' final nemesis. James Waterson is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He worked and taught in the US and China for a number of years and now lives in Italy. John Man has written acclaimed biographies of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan.
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Defending HeavenChina's Mongol Wars, 1209-1370
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About James Waterson
James Waterson was born into a London family of Royal Marines and Paratroopers. Fatherly advice however steered him away from a military career and into academia and teaching.
He is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and received his Masters degree from Dundee University.
He worked and taught in the United States and China for a number of years and now divides his time between the Middle East and Italy whilst trying to makes ends meet.
The Ismaili Assassins is his second book and grew out of his travels in Iran. His first book, The Knights of Islam, a history of the slave soldiers of Islam, was published in 2007 by Greenhill Books.
He continues to work at producing a life of the Crusader Bohemond of Taranto but knows it will never be finished.
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