My review of Saladin by Anne Marie Eddé ran today in the Boston Globe.
I’ve been looking for a good biography of Saladin ever since I read Richard and John: Kings at War. This one, however, did not really do it for me. Eddé deconstructs the very nature of biography, untangling fact from fiction and asking whether we can truly know or understand figures of the past. It’s an intriguing premise, and the work she does in detailing how the “legend” of Saladin was cultivated by the sultan himself, and then modified by subsequent generations (both Arab and European), is enlightening. But the disjointed, fractured nature of the book was frustrating. There was just no excitement, no sense of narrative. Saladin is dry, academic, and while full of fascinating detail, it’s not tied together in an entertaining manner.