Chair of history department featured in Forbes

Maddy Rodak

marodak@ursinus.edu

Associate Professor and Department Chair of History, Dr. Susanna Throop’s book “The Crusades: An Epitome” has been making waves in the media. It was recently featured on the “Forbes Magazine” website in the article “5 Books To Help You Understand The Crusades” penned by contributor Matthew Gabriele. In the article, Gabriele deems Throop’s book, “the best place to start for a general survey of the Crusades.”

“I’ve been studying the crusades for almost 20 years now. I was interested in writing this book in particular because I saw an opportunity to revise the standard narrative of the crusades for the general public”

—Dr. Susanna Throop Associate Professor and Department Chair of History

In a piece for Ursinus Magazine, “Crusades Book Recognized by ‘Forbes’ as a Must Read,” Mary Lobo ’15 writes that Throop’s book “covers a broad chronological look at the crusades from the 11th century to the 21st century and brings together a unique combination of European, Islamic and Byzantine historical approaches.”

When asked about the topic for the book, Throop explained that the crusades are one of her many research interests. “The crusades are my area of scholarly expertise,” Throop said. “So in that sense, the choice of topic is not surprising; I’ve been studying the crusades for almost 20 years now. I was interested in writing this book in particular because I saw an opportunity to revise the standard narrative of the crusades for the general public.”

Throop also discovered many things about revising traditional historical narratives during her time researching the book. “One of the things I discovered is how difficult it is to revise a traditional historical narrative. However, I also learned that it was possible, and that my own view of the crusades shifted as a result of writing the book. Certain trends — like the shift towards Christian nationalism in Europe during the later Middle Ages, or the utter contrast between the history and the mythology of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin [two leaders of Christian and Muslim forces in the Crusades respectively] — really came into focus for me as a result of this writing.”

The “Forbes” article was very important for Throop. “The person who wrote the “Forbes” piece is a colleague whom I deeply respect; for him to praise my book in that way, in such a public forum, meant a great deal to me,” Throop explained. “It signaled that I was not alone in thinking it’s important to write for the public and to publish Open Access [the ability for any library to directly access a book] — that some of the colleagues I respect the most appreciate those values, too.”

In the “Ursinus Magazine” piece, Mary Lobo touched on how Ursinus students Morgan Larese ’18 and Elijah Sloat ’18 assisted Throop during the research and writing process of her book. Lobo went on to explain that Larese and Sloat “worked closely alongside Throop to plan a structure for the book, laying out ideas and arguments chapter by chapter and identifying themes that she wanted to use throughout the piece.”

“The book wouldn’t have been the same without them and their work,” Throop said when asked about the collaboration process with Larese and Sloat. “They were true collaborators, and their insightful and critical questions, as well as their good ideas, made the book better in all kinds of ways.”

Overall, when asked about what her initial reaction was
to seeing her book featured on the “Forbes” website, Throop said, “I felt humble and proud at the same time, odd as that may sound. I also felt very grateful.”